Lord Browne announced as Chairman of judges to find the UK's top entrepreneur

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London, 12 January 2012: Lord Browne of Madingley, the former chief executive of BP, has been announced as the chairman of the independent judging panel that will be scouring the country to find the UK’s leading entrepreneur.

A Partner of Riverstone Holdings, who is also the Government’s lead non-executive director, Lord Browne will head a judging panel which will be drawn from across the UK to decide the winners of the prestigious EY UK Entrepreneur Of The Year competition, sponsored by Credit Suisse.

From today, companies across sectors, individuals and the public are being urged to nominate outstanding UK entrepreneurs and successful social enterprises for the prestigious awards, won last year by Stephen Catlin, Chief Executive of international insurer Catlin Group.

The UK awards recognise those who have helped increase employment, turned around struggling businesses or led the way in exports. This year will also include a new private equity category and an international award. The awards, which have provided a boost to established and unsung heroes across all sectors, will see finalists judged in regional ceremonies across London and South, Midlands, the North and Scotland during June culminating in the final in October. The closing date for applications is 2 March 2012.

To enter the competition entrepreneurs must have demonstrated risk through investing a personal financial stake in their business, either directly or through share options. The business must be based, or have its chief operations in the UK and be incorporated for two years as of 1 January 2012.

Last year’s 42 UK finalists—including David Suddens of Doc Martens maker R Griggs, Colin Robertson of Alexander Dennis and Entertainment Magpie founders, Steve Oliver and Walter Gleeson—were responsible for a combined annual revenue of £7 billion and collectively created new jobs at a rate of 20 per cent, despite wider unemployment in the economy. The awards also recognise social enterprise, with last year’s successes in this category, Michelle Clothier and Sam Conniff of Livity Limited – praised for creating a strong business, connecting teenagers and youth culture into the corporate world.

Former category winners have included Hilary Devey, star of BBC’s Dragons’ Den and former Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Matthew Riley, of Daisy telecoms, who grilled candidates in last year’s The Apprentice, and Peter Cowgill of JD Sports.

Steve Varley, EY, UK & Ireland Managing Partner, said:

"Lord Browne and his fellow judges will help us celebrate the achievements of UK entrepreneurs who are making the difference to our economy. These dynamic business leaders contribute significantly to our society through the many jobs they create across the country and through their innovation and export success.”

Stuart Watson: EY UK Leader of Entrepreneur of the Year, added:

“In the current climate, the importance of recognising, celebrating and supporting entrepreneurs is more important than ever. Entrepreneur Of The Year provides a powerful opportunity to showcase talent, raise personal profiles and network with finalists past and present.”

Lord Browne of Madingley said:

“I'm delighted to have been asked to Chair the Judges for the UK EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for 2012. Now more than ever we should be recognising and applauding the entrepreneurs who are driving their businesses forward, taking innovative new ideas to markets around the world, and creating the jobs and wealth that will deliver prosperity for the UK as a whole. "

Despite celebration of success, entrepreneurs call for further support, ranking UK 14th out of the G20 for ‘entrepreneurial culture”
The awards open following research commissioned by EY which found that entrepreneurs rank the UK 14th in the G20 in providing an “entrepreneurial culture”. While many young UK entrepreneurs (76%) believe that there is a good entrepreneurial culture in the UK, inspired by television shows such as The Apprentice and Dragons Den and well-known entrepreneur success stories, it was ranked behind higher performers such as the US (88%) and India (98%) for its entrepreneurial culture, equal to Italy and below Turkey. The EY barometer, which analyses entrepreneurship among G20 countries, found positively that the UK had some of the lowest start-up costs and among the lowest number of days for companies to start trading. However, businesses reported significant challenges for funding, innovation, and incentives in the UK. Challenges currently facing successful entrepreneurs included the value of SME listings on the Alternative Investment Market which dropped by 65% in five years, while 72% of UK entrepreneurs found access to funding difficult.

EY partner Bob Forsyth, Head of UK SMEs, said: “While we look to celebrate the significant achievement of entrepreneurs in the UK, it is clear there is a great deal of work necessary to ensure that the entrepreneurial culture reaches the levels enjoyed by competitors. The continuing problems of regulatory burdens, bank lending, dismal IPO appetite, and insufficient tax incentives are limiting future growth, making it harder for entrepreneurs to invest and create jobs. There also needs to be further support for those looking to drive exports - the likely most powerful driver of UK business and employment success.”

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