Startup Awards North East How it works

Skillup startup scaleup

The categories

The final is over a full day and is split up into the categories below. You cannot enter more than one category, and you must be available for the face to face live finals in the summer. We will give you plenty of notice for the date!

Split into 3 categories, you have 3 options for your entry:

  1. SkillUP - if you are yet to register your ideas at companies house, you may not even have a fully formed idea and are just curious about starting up.
  2. StartUP - you've just registered your business and have a turnover of less than £15,000 per year.
  3. ScaleUP - If you've been going a couple of years, you have ambitions to grow and you're turning over more than £15,000 a year this one's for you!


The Awards

For each category (SkillUP, StartUP, ScaleUP) you will be in with a chance of winning 2 awards. High Growth or Social Impact. You may even win both as it is decided live on the day by your audience.  If this sounds nerve wracking don't worry, the FIRST team are here to support you and will give you plenty of help in the run up to the awards (including a 2 day accelerator!) to help you perfect your pitch and build up that self belief! 

For more information, download the application pack and see if the time is right for you!



The Startup Awards North East are fully inclusive, and open to anyone over 16 years old in the North East Region. Whether you are curious about starting up and want to explore opportunities and ideas, or you are a registered sole trader or business established less than 4 years the awards are open to all levels of experience so there is a category to suit you.

To see the full list of criteria please take a look at the Awards Terms and Conditions and the 2024 Application Pack.

Terms and conditions

Judging criteria

The judges will be looking for clear and concise answers on the following: 

1. The problem that you are solving

2. Your solution 

3. Your team 

4. What support networks you have

5. Revenue streams and market share 

6. Competition and risk awareness 

7. Growth potential 

8. Social impact 

A full breakdown for each award criteria (High Growth and Social Impact) is on page 12 and 13 of the applicant pack.


Awards timeline

Applications open

December - February
Time for you to submit your entry!

Investor Ready Accelerator

All applicants will be invited to a face to face accelerator based in Gateshead

Shortlist confirmed

15 applicants will be selected (per category) for SkillUP, StartUP and ScaleUP

Live final

June 18th 2024
Your chance to show the North East business community what you've got!

Follow up opportunities

June onwards
This is when the magic happens! You will be connected, sign posted and sent further opportunities to help your business and you flourish by the Award winning team at FIRST!
ideas prize

Are you curious about starting up? #SkillUP

Do you love the idea of being your own boss? Do you want to make some extra cash and have a side hustle alongside your current role or studies?

You may not even have a business idea but you want to explore opportunities. Or if you do have an idea this is the perfect opportunity to test ideas without having to take that scary leap into the unknown. 

You will meet peers, mentors, collaborators and have the opportunity and space to consider if you want to progress, pivot or pause your startup.


Just registered your business? #startup

With a turnover of less than £15,000, you've just registered your business or set up as a freelancer and are looking to generate more business enquiries. 

You may need resources such as a website, funding, a coworking space or your first office.

If you want to be immersed in the region's business community to access the resources to make your startup a success, then this is the category for you!


Looking to grow your startup? #scaleup

You've got ambitions for world domination! customers generating revenue and a turnover of more than £15,000 a year.

You may need help hiring staff, getting your next premises, expanding your supply chain or funding opportunities for growth - if any of these ring true then #ScaleUP is for you.

You will make meaningful connections that will take you and your business to the next level.


I have a question!

Not sure what/who/where/why/when? Give us a shout by clicking the contact button below and the team will be in touch :)

I need help!

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