Award Categories

SME Business of the Year

This award will be presented to the small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) that stands out from the crowd due to its performance, growth and dynamism (businesses employing from 1-49 staff members). It may be early in its development, and have big ambitions which it is already starting to successfully translate into reality, or it may be a slightly larger business which is thriving and providing employment locally. This is a popular category, so competition is likely to be stiff, so please ensure you put as much detail as possible in your entry. 

Best Large Business

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This award recognises businesses with more than 50 employees who have delivered consistent growth whilst maintaining a strong balance sheet, and who demonstrate innovative business practices which are delivered through an engaged workforce. The judges are looking for businesses which have successfully grown their organisation, showing strong leadership and clearly defined strategic objectives.

Best Independent Business

This is a brand new category for 2022 which is aimed at independent businesses in the Sunderland and County Durham area, whether this is a privately owned business, a sole proprietorship or owned by a very small group of individuals. Judges will be interested in the ethos and background to the independent business, its profitability and the unique selling points which make it a success, the difference it has made in its sector and how it has overcome any challenges. They will also be looking at future projections and plans.

Social Enterprise Award

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This award is open to charities and social enterprises who can demonstrate significant commercial and social impact of their activities. Judges will want to see clear evidence of commercial awareness and innovative strategies that complement the altruistic aims of the organisation. Budgetary Control and a sound Balance Sheet will be factors as will measurable success in achieving its goals and in building strong links to businesses and the local community.

Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Business of the Year

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Recognising the significant number of Leisure & Retail businesses which service the local communities, as well as drive tourism, this award highlights excellence within this sector. Open to any restaurant, hotel, café, pub, leisure facility, shop, visitor attraction or similar business. We are looking for an organisation in this sector that excels in their field.

Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

Apprenticeships are vital in bridging the skills gap that takes such a heavy toll on British business. Even more employers are now offering young people the chance to earn as they learn, but which of our region’s trainees has gone the extra mile, and had a positive impact on their employer – and looks set to be one of the business leaders of tomorrow?

Sustainable initiative of the year Award

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This award will be presented to a business that puts sustainability and environmental protection at the heart of its business model. It may operate within the environmental sector (e.g. waste management companies) or it may be active in any other sector but will ensure that its environmental impact is kept to an absolute minimum, for example through recycling, carbon offset, water conservation or sustainable energy schemes.

Business in the Community Award

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This category is seeking individuals, teams or businesses whose efforts during the coronavirus crisis inspired others in the community. We are looking for inspiring applications from/about those who have used creativity, connection, and community to navigate their survival in the face of adversity. Please show details of policies or specific activities that benefited the community in your application.

Employer of the Year

This award recognises the business that has shown pre-eminent commitment to the development and welfare of its people, by encouraging communication, creativity and proactivity throughout the organisation. The winner will be able to show appreciation, genuine commitment to, and trust in, its people leading to success in business, as well as a fulfilling and stimulating working environment.  An award for a business that has great staff relations, good staff retention, with excellent training and who cares for their employees. The best companies to work for! 

Business of the Year

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The ‘best of the best’, the winner of this award will be chosen from the winners of all the other awards, to give us a champion of champions. Judges will be looking for an innovative business model, impeccable business practices and outstanding business performance.  - no entry required as the winning Business will be selected from the other entries to the previous categories.

Entrepreneur of the Year

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Entrepreneurs are the dynamic visionaries who bring change and innovation to our commercial and economic landscape. Bold, bright and disruptive, they see gaps in the market where others see barriers, and exploit them to bring wealth, jobs and opportunity to our communities. The winner of this award will be a business visionary who has made a significant contribution to business in this area and is an exceptional role model to others.

Lifetime Achievement Award

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The Lifetime Achievement Award is our most prestigious award of the night and recognises the outstanding leadership and contribution of an individual throughout their career. This award cannot be entered, as the independent judges will choose a worthy individual, who’s contribution has made an outstanding impact in the Sunderland region.  

Special Recognition