Early Stage Founders, set to benefit with BEF’s Headline Sponsorship for Startup Awards North East

FIRST, an agency at the forefront of enterprise skill learning, today unveiled the launch of the Startup Awards North East, with the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) as the headline sponsor. This year's awards are set against the backdrop of a compelling challenge: igniting the region's potential to significantly elevate lagging startup business rates, as highlighted by the Centre for Entrepreneurs 2022 Startup Index.

“Specifically designed for the innovative and the curious – the people and partners who are ready to transform our region, Startup Awards North East is unlike traditional awards" says Charlotte Windebank, Managing Director at FIRST. "We're rallying to meet the national startup average, which could bring a surge of 39,721 new businesses to our doorstep each year. That’s not just growth; that’s a revolution for our economy and communities.”

Success stories from previous entrants, such as Earth Shot Prize finalists Low Carbon Materials, Crowd funding leaders Impossibrew and Ecological disrupters Chestnut Bio affirm the awards' role in preparing regional businesses for international spotlight.


Empowering the North East’s Business Landscape:

Established by an underrepresented founder from the North East, the awards target early-stage founders with businesses less than 4 years old, offering a spotlight and support network through free workshops and mentoring. Participants will showcase their ventures at the June 2024 finals, aspiring for success across three key categories:

  • SkillUP: For the planners and dreamers crafting their business blueprint.
  • StartUP: For the doers and makers who’ve taken the first step with a sub-£15,000 turnover.
  • ScaleUP: For the achievers and innovators ready to expand beyond a £15,000 turnover.

BEF Fuelling Entrepreneurial Dreams:

BEF’s headline sponsorship represents a strategic commitment to the region’s startup ecosystem. "We're investing in the Startup Awards North East to spark a wave of entrepreneurial activity that can reshape our economic landscape," commented Stephen Waud, CEO at BEF. "Our goal is to empower the founders across the North East with flexible finance to help them drive forward the region’s future."

Call for Collaborative Partnerships:

The awards extend an invitation to organisations to collaborate as partners or prize providers, contributing to a robust startup ecosystem and empowering inclusive economic growth.

Entering the Awards:

For application details and to understand the impact of previous successes, visit www.startupawardsne.co.uk. Join us in forging the future of the North East's business scene.

About FIRST:

With a mission to nurture entrepreneurial talent, FIRST delivers events, workshops, and programmes that are the lifeblood of business innovation and leadership development.

About BEF:

The Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) provides loans from £500 to £250,000 to businesses, helping them begin, expand and flourish.

BEF is a Regional Delivery Partner for the Government’s Start Up Loans Programme which supports emerging and young businesses across Yorkshire, the Humber, and the North East with finance and support. BEF supports BEF, alongside FFE, deliver the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund’s Microfinance Loans across Yorkshire, Humber and the Tees Valley, a fund delivered by the British Business Bank.

As a social enterprise and a Responsible Finance Provider, BEF’s profits are reinvested into the loan fund and granted to organisations that encourage and build enterprise. Over the last 11 years BEF’s has invested £108m in lending, added £392.4 million of value to the region’s economy, and created or safeguarded 13,140 jobs.

PHOTO CREDIT: Yana Balatskaya Left to right: Previous StartUP Winner – Lisa Cryer, Blue Jay Wellness CIC MD Charlotte Windebank, FIRST Senior Investment Manager – Lee Vickers, BEF Previous SkillUP Winner  - Sarah Mills, the Art of Winning

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