The Real Business Growing Business Awards - now in its 16th year - is on the hunt for the best UK firms which are helping drive economic recovery, amid reports that SMEs are set to help UK GDP growth hit 3.1% this year.
The awards, in association with Lloyds Bank and supported by the CBI, are the most established and respected national recognition of SME and entrepreneurial success, championing businesses in sectors such as exports, innovation and digital.
Since 1999, the awards have celebrated many of the UK's finest high-growth businesses, including now-household names such as Innocent, Tyrrells, EasyJet, Phones 4U, Zoopla and LoveFilm, which was acquired by Amazon in 2013.
This year sees the launch of two categories. Retail Hero will recognise outstanding growing businesses from eCommerce to the high street, and Brand Builder of the Year will celebrate the UK's most recognisable new household names.
Judges for this year's awards include Zoopla CEO and founder Alex Chesterman, serial entrepreneurs Dr Stephen Fear and Lara Morgan, and Martyn Dawes, the founder of Coffee Nation.
Tim Hinton, Managing Director, SME & Mid Markets at Lloyds Bank, comments: "It is a good time to be an entrepreneur in the UK. Signs of economic growth illustrate that SMEs and entrepreneurs are beginning to benefit from innovating and investing in a range of different sectors. We would like to encourage a wide range of entrants from across the UK that are fuelling domestic and international growth."
Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: "With confidence rising and businesses investing, we now have a strong launch pad to propel the economy forward. The UK's growing businesses are playing a critical role in keeping our economy motoring. These entrepreneurial firms are our future champion companies, and the CBI is proud to celebrate their successes and to support these awards."
Amy Carroll, Group Editor, Caspian Media adds: "The Growing Business Awards is about celebrating the continual success of businesses in the UK and empowering the business leaders of tomorrow. Over the years we have continued to adapt and respond to growing trends within the business world. This year's new categories echo this sentiment and recognise the increasing number of GBA winners who have emerged from small start-up to household names"