A dozen entrepreneurs from across the UK have reached the final of BQ's first national emerging entrepreneur of the year.
Hosted, as has become customary, by the BBC's Mark Easton, the evening will see 12 entrepreneurs and their supporters from around the UK descend upon the Newcastle Gateshead Hilton, for an evening of inspiration as they share their stories with those attending.
BQ's managing director, Bryan Hoare, said: "We've never seen a more diverse set of finalists, which is a testament to entrepreneurial spirit which BQ is now seeing in spades, across the UK.
"We have found individuals in this shortlist who have the potential to make a tangible difference to the business landscape not only in their own companies, but in their sectors and in the business community as a whole."
Amongst the finalists are entrepreneurs who's work has the potential to impact on many different areas of our lives; from specialist digital companies, to the designers of safety devices, to the manufacturers of emoji cushions, and even a supplier of ethical dog grooming products.
Whilst their lines of business are extraordinarily varied, they all impressed our independent judging panel with their achievements in business so far, the aspirations they have, and their plans for an exciting future.
This year's emerging entrepreneur awards are being powered by Atom, and their CEO Mark Mullen will take to the stage to share his story of starting a digital bank which would change the way people and businesses related to their money.
MD of business banking, and another of the firm’s founders Craig Iley, had this to say of the finalists: “We are proud to continue our support of the BQ National Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year campaign. We know what it takes to build, grow, and run a start-up business.
“We hope this campaign will help celebrate and inspire entrepreneurship to make a positive impact on local, regional, and national economies. And with such a strong shortlist for 2017, we’re really looking forward to following their successes on the night.”
The independent judging panel included representatives from Atom Bank, Gateshead College, Simon Bollen from Boutique Media and facilitator Caroline Theobald, alongside BQ’s current Emerging Entrepreneur Ben Staerck of Furniture Clinic.
Chris Toon, deputy principal for curriculum and quality at Gateshead College, said: “The BQ Emerging Entrepreneur awards play a very important role in recognising individuals that are embracing their ideas with commitment and ambition and helping to create employment and economic prosperity.
I was extremely impressed by the quality of the nominations for these awards and feel confident we have selected the right finalists based on their innovation, values and business performance.”
We'll hear from the finalists, and see our overall 2017 emerging entrepreneur crowned, at the event on Wednesday, 22nd February. Find out more on the brand new BQlive website, or click here to book your tickets.
Our dozen finalists are:
John Savage, Flame Heating Spares
Sarat Pediredla, hedgehog lab
Sarah Agar-Brennan, Love Bomb Cushions
Laura Earnshaw, My Happy Mind
Rebecca Pick, Pick Protection
Mark Hirschel, Power Pet Brands - HOWND
Daniel Campbell, Red Box Coffee Roasters
David Hunter, ShotScope Technologies Ltd
Jonathan Grubin, SoPost
Bruce Gray, Small Bar and Left Handed Giant Brewing
Tom Marley, The Car Buying Group
James Howard, Yorkshire Payments
Bottle Bank, Gateshead NE8 2AR, UK