Startup awards north east How it works


The Awards are open to any North East startup or business idea less than 3 years old. Formerly known as the If We Can You Can Challenge, the activities have helped hundreds of early stage founders reach the next level. 

To see the full list of criteria, please take a look at the Award's terms and conditions

learn more
ideas prize

if you're curious about starting up

You may love the thought of being your own boss, you think there's an easier way or you would like to test an idea but you're not ready to 'take the leap'. At this stage you will meet like minded peers, mentors and have an opportunity to share and develop your passion and ideas to begin your startup journey.

Apply now

If you've Just started

You've registered your business at Companies House and you're starting to gain interest and support. You may be planning to get investment ready, quit the day job and start work on your company identity. If this sounds like you...

Apply now

This one is for trading startups

You're 2 or 3 years down the line, you have a solid business plan and have ambitions to grow and scale your products or services. You have have customers but are looking for publicity and contacts to take your business to the next level.

Apply now

Awards timeline


September - October
Ready... set.... GO! Time to apply and get connected into the North East Business Community!


November - February
Expect events, opportunities and introductions to come your way. Once you apply you are part of a like minded community of passionate founders and established business who want to support you.

Get Ready

Alongside our partners NEL Fund Managers we will be delivering a 2 day event filled with workshops and interactive activities to get you ready for the awards...


Our judges will work through applicants and you will be notified if you've made it to the final of the 3 awards - Ideas, Just Started or Ambition to Grow.


March - April
A 3 day bonanza complete with workshops, networking events and a glitzy award dinner showcasing and celebrating the region's next generation of entrepreneurs!
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