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Programme details

Who is eligible to enter?

Any business leader who:

  • Has a significant personal financial stake in the business, either directly or via share options.
  • Has built, or helped build a business that is based, or has its chief operations in the UK and has been incorporated for a minimum of two years as of 1 January 2017.
  • Is primarily responsible for the company’s success and has been in post for a minimum of two years as of 1 January 2017.



The entrepreneur who sees the world differently to others

Our disruptor category celebrates entrepreneurs who have the vision and courage to create new businesses that challenge traditional business models.

They have built a business that has changed the face of a sector or industry, or created an entirely new market, and are demonstrating sustainable growth and a clear vision for the future.


The entrepreneur who sees the world as their marketplace

This category celebrates exceptional entrepreneurs with the vision and determination to build a successful business internationally.

They will have developed an innovative business that has either successfully expanded from the UK into a specific overseas market or has proven global appeal.


Are you an entrepreneur who has continued to challenge and innovate throughout your career?

This category celebrates those individuals who have made an enduring contribution to UK entrepreneurial business over many years.

They may have started more than one business or even several during their career. Or indeed run the same business for the duration constantly innovating and seeking new markets.

They are continually innovating and can demonstrate a clear track record of success and a strong base for future growth.

Rising Star

Are you an entrepreneur who is creating an exceptional business of the future?

Our rising star category celebrates those entrepreneurs that are questioning the way the world works and creating exciting and innovative businesses that challenge and inspire.

They will have a clear vision, ambitious plans to grow and a desire to build a successful, sustainable business.

With a strong and proven business model, their business must have been incorporated for a minimum of two years and a maximum of seven years as at 1 January 2017.

Scale Up

The entrepreneur who is going from good to great

Our scale-up category celebrates those entrepreneurs that have proven that they have a sustainable business model and are rapidly expanding to meet the demands of their market.

They will have built a dynamic, high impact innovative business with a clear vision and solid growth plans and may already be recognised as someone to watch.

Transformational Leader

The entrepreneur who can see a better way

This category recognises great leaders who have the vision and determination to lead an organisation to bigger and better things.

They may not be the founder of the business, but have identified a need to change, created a vision for success, and executed the change in a positive and inspirational way.

What do judges look for?

Nominees are assessed by an independent panel of judges. They review each nominee on a wide range of criteria, including:

Entrepreneurial spirit

  • Setting high standards and demonstrating a desire to be successful
  • Taking risks and overcoming significant obstacles
  • Demonstrating perseverance and learning from experience

Financial performance

  • Strength of financial performance
  • Strategies for managing cash flow
  • Strategies for ensuring long term sustainability
  • Reinvestment of profit


  • Pioneering new approaches or technologies
  • Ability to adapt and develop products/services ahead of the market
  • Building a culture of innovation and investing in research and development

National and global impact

  • Achieving market share
  • Extent of expansion into national and/or international markets
  • Plans to enable international growth and reach

Personal integrity and influence

  • Personal values and approach to relationships with staff, clients, suppliers and colleagues
  • Experience as a role model, mentor and/or advisor to others
  • Personal involvement in the wider community

Strategic direction

  • Developing a vision and setting goals for future growth and expansion
  • Building an effective team and strategic alliances
  • Measuring and benchmarking progress against goals

How does the programme work?

Entry to the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year programme is through an online entry form.

Entrants will compete in regional programmes, based on the head office location of their business. Regional programmes are run in London & South, Midlands, North and Scotland.

  • December 2016 – February 2017

    Programme is open for entries

  • December 2016 – February 2017

    Semi-finalist interviews

    Entrepreneurs are selected for interview where they have the chance to tell their compelling story. The notes from this interview are added to the entry form and the financial documents to make up the judges’ pack which in turn is reviewed by the judges before the face-to-face meetings at the Judges’ Reception in May.

  • April 2017

    Regional finalists announced

    Each entrepreneur will receive direct communication to let them know if they have been selected as a regional finalist based on the entry form.

    Regional finalists will then be announced to the media and profiled on the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year website.

  • May 2017

    Regional Judges' Receptions

    Regional finalists will be interviewed by a panel of judges who will select a regional winner from each category and one overall for the region. All winners will progress to the national competition.

    At this event you will meet your fellow finalists, Entrepreneur Of The Year alumni and other key business leaders.

    These events are strictly by invitation only

    • Tuesday, 2 May: Midlands Judges’ Reception
    • Thursday, 4 May: North Judges’ Reception
    • Tuesday, 9 May: Scotland Entrepreneurs’ Masterclass and Judges’ Reception
    • Thursday, 11 May: London & South Judges’ Reception
  • June 2017

    Regional Awards Ceremonies

    A black tie ceremony where the regional winners are announced. Also a great opportunity for further networking with your peers, Entrepreneur Of The Year alumni, sponsors and business leaders. This will provide a great opportunity for you and your team to celebrate your achievements and hard work.

    These events are strictly by invitation only

    • Thursday, 15 June: Midlands Awards Ceremony
    • Tuesday, 20 June: North Awards Ceremony
    • Thursday, 22 June: Scotland Awards Ceremony
    • Tuesday, 27 June: London & South Awards Ceremony
  • September 2017

    UK Judges' Reception

    As a UK finalist you will have the opportunity, in a face-to-face interview, to tell your story to the judges focusing on what is special about you and your business.

    This event is strictly by invitation only

    • Thursday, 14 September: UK Judges’ Reception
  • October 2017

    UK Awards Ceremony

    The programme’s pinnacle event; a spectacular celebration of entrepreneurship across the UK. The UK category winners and the overall Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 UK will be announced. This evening is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs from across the UK to network with each other and to celebrate with fellow finalists, Entrepreneur Of The Year alumni and key business influencers.

    This event is strictly by invitation only

    • Wednesday, 11 October: UK Awards Ceremony
  • June 2018

    World Entrepreneur Of The Year

    The UK Entrepreneur Of The Year winner will join the other country winners to be inducted in to the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Hall of Fame and vie for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year title.