Finalists of UK Entrepreneur of the Year award announced

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  • Most prestigious business awards celebrates top UK entrepreneurs across sectors for driving growth and employment
  • New special award in recognition for most successful regional enterprise in driving growth, in association with StartUp Britain

London, 20 September 2011: Top UK business leaders who have shown drive and innovation in starting and growing companies in challenging economic conditions, have today been named as finalists in EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year.

More than 40 of the UK’s most entrepreneurial businessmen and women are competing to win the prestigious title of the UK’s Entrepreneur Of The Year, at awards to be held in London’s Hilton Park Lane on 3 October, hosted by Fiona Bruce and attended by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The independent judges have recognised the recent vision and success of the entrepreneurs across regions and sectors including recruitment, retail, technology and consumer products. Those in the running at the awards include those who have recently turned their companies into global performers, in the face of the current economic outlook, such as Gareth Williams, co-founder and Chief Executive of flight comparison website, Skyscanner Limited which is available in 23 languages and has a market leading position in Russia and Italy. In Scotland, Colin Robertson, Chief Executive of Alexander Dennis has turned Britain’s leading bus and coach manufacturer into the fastest growing business of its type in Western Europe; Thea Green, founder and managing director of Nails Inc, which is expanding into overseas markets including the US and South Africa; and David Suddens Chief Executive of Dr martens manufactuer, R Griggs Group, last year saw sales grow by 33% largely due to a move to own retailing and expansion in Asia. The awards will also name the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year.

The successful UK winner will then compete with other winners of the prestigious title across the world, at the world Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Monte Carlo next year. Last year’s winner Ayman Asfari, Group Chief Executive of oil and gas company Petrofac Limited was recognised from turning the company into a US$1mn US domestic business to a leading international services company worth US$8bn. Former category winners have included Hilary Devey, star of BBC’s Dragons’s Den and former Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Matthew Riley, of Daisy telecoms, who grilled candidates on this year’s The Apprentice.

Martin Cook, EY managing partner for UK Entrepreneur Of The Year, said:

“During these tough economic times, the importance of our entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. These entrepreneurs are undoubtedly the UK’s economic success story, continuing to deliver innovation, growth and jobs, and promoting British brands overseas.These businessmen and women also provide cause for optimism: they see opportunity when others only see risk, and they succeed even in the toughest of conditions.”

StartUp Britain Enterprise Support Award, sponsored by EY

New to this year is a special award recognising the locally-based support projects targeting regional growth and enterprise, but which have the capacity for scaling nationally. This StartUp Britain award, of which EY was a founding supporter, was open to start-ups or individuals that may have had a positive social and economic impact in their region, are sustainable, and have been running for less than three years.

The five finalists are Bedford-based Building Enterprising Communities, promoting enterprise in disadvantaged communities. The project has promoted self-employment, helped 275 people get a job and helped set up 15 businesses, focusing on disadvantaged groups including lone parents, older and younger workers, ethnic minorities; individuals with offender history and those who faced language or cultural barriers.

Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network (BSEEN) trains and supports graduates, collaborating with Aston University, University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University in a £1.75million project. This has provided entrepreneurial support to 446 graduates, supported 90 emerging businesses, creating 30 new graduate businesses in the Birmingham area.

Founded by Carl Hopkins, who appeared on Channel Four Secret Millionaire, Rotherham-based Are You Ready creates a culture of enterprise in education, working with children aged four until 19, including training teachers to deliver enterprise through the curriculum. It has seen 232 young people start a business in Rotherham with an 81 per cent survival rate for businesses.

Regenerate Pennine Lancashire focuses on ‘Enterprise Havens’ providing non-threatening premises for small businesses, and supported by Burnley Football club and Blackburn Rovers to further encourage most excluded residents. Despite focusing on areas of very low levels of natural enterprise, it has started more than 1500 new businesses and secured over 4000 local jobs.

Leicester Business Women has been designed to support female entrepreneurs seeking to set up their own businesses and is focused on the disadvantaged areas of the city. It also supports ‘softer skills’ such as confidence-building and motivation, as well as practical elements of entrepreneurship. It has helped 280 women develop ideas for business start ups.

Martin Cook continues: “Regional growth is hugely important and therefore we are proud to support the work of StartUp Britain, which supports, inspires and accelerates enterprise in the UK. Innovative programmes such as these are so powerful because they help ensure that the disadvantaged or dispossessed, and many natural entrepreneurs who have never even thought of turning their energy to business, are given real and practical training, support and focus to become the driving force of tomorrow.”

Interviews and photos of the finalists are available – for further information contact Jonathan Marciano on 0207 951 9456.

The finalists for UK Entrepreneur are:



Adconion Media Group LtdTyler MoebiusCo-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

AFG Media LtdGregor Lawson
Ali Smeaton
Fraser Smeaton

Airline Services Holdings LimitedBryan BodekChief Executive

Alexander Dennis LimitedColin RobertsonChief Executive Officer

Antal International LimitedTony GoodwinChief Executive Officer and Founder

AppSense LtdCharles SharlandExecutive Chairman

Argent Energy (UK) LimitedJim WalkerManaging Director

Balhousie Care GroupTony BanksChairman

Barrhead Travel Service LimitedSharon MunroChief Executive

BioRegional Development GroupSue RiddlestoneExecutive Director and Co-Founder

Catlin Group LimitedStephen CatlinChief Executive

CDS (Superstores International) LimitedChristopher DawsonManaging Director

Climate Cars LimitedNicko WilliamsonManaging Director

Copal Partners LimitedRishi KhoslaChief Executive Officer

ECO Plastics LtdJonathan ShortChief Executive Officer

Ella's Kitchen Group LimitedPaul LindleyFounder and Chief Executive Officer

Endava LimitedJohn CotterellChief Executive Officer

Entertainment Magpie LimitedSteve Oliver
Walter Gleeson
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Operating Officer

Entiér LimitedPeter BruceManaging Director

EvoEnergy LtdKevin HardChief Executive Officer

Fircroft Engineering Services LtdJohnathan JohnsonChief Executive Officer

Globus (Shetland) LtdHaraldur AgustssonManaging Director

Greenergy International LtdAndrew OwensChief Executive

Hill Holt WoodKaren LowthropChief Executive Officer

Hydrasun Holdings LimitedBob DrummondChief Executive Officer

Impact Arts Projects LimitedSusan AktemelDirector

Keltbray Group (Holdings) LimitedBrendan KerrChief Executive Officer

Lexon (UK) LtdAnup Sodha
Pritesh Soppal
Joint directors

Livity LimitedMichelle Clothier
Sam Conniff
Managing Director
/ Co-founders

Markco Media LimitedMark PearsonChairman

Mary’s MealsMagnus MacFarlane-BarrowChief Executive

Nails Inc. LimitedThea GreenFounder and Managing Director

Node4Andrew GilbertManaging Director

powerPerfector plc GroupAngus RobertsonChief Executive Officer

R Griggs Group LtdDavid SuddensChief Executive

Rixonway Kitchens LtdPaul RoseChief Executive

Skyscanner LimitedGareth WilliamsChief Executive Officer & Co-founder

Tekmar Energy LimitedJames RitchieGeneral Manager

The Mountain Group LimitedMark NealeManaging Director

thebigword Holdings LtdLarry GouldChief Executive Officer

Tullis Russell Group LimitedChris ParrGroup Chief Executive

Wonga.comErrol DamelinFounder and Chief Executive Officer


The judging is based on the criteria of entrepreneurial spirit, global impact, strategic direction, personal integrity and influence, innovation, financial performance, individual and corporate social responsibility, entrepreneurial spirit, strategic direction, and personal integrity and influence.

The Chairman of the judges is Richard Harpin, Chief Executive of Homeserve. The judging panel includes Sherry Coutu, Non Executive Director, Angel Investor, who serves on the advisory board of Linkedin, Seedcamp and Zoopla; Mark Fairbairn, Non Executive Director, Office of Rail Regulation, Andy Homer, Group Chief Executive of Towergate Partnership Co; Neil Hutchinson, Founder and Managing Director, Forward Internet Group; Steve Mogford, Chief Executive, United Utilities Group; Norman Murray, Non Executive Chairman, Petrofac Limited; Vanda Murray, Non Executive Director, Carillion plc, SIG plc, Manchester Airport Group; Alison Ogden-Newton, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise London; Anthony Preston, Founder, Pets At Home; Phil Smith,CEO Cisco UK & Ireland; and David Whileman, UK Head of Growth Capital 3i plc.

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