Five North East Entrepreneurs have made it to the final of the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year awards, which will take place at the inaugural BQ National Entrepreneur Festival this month.

The festival, hosted by BQ and Atom Bank will take place at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle upon Tyne on 21 November 2017. Tickets for the event are still available here.

Here is the shortlist for the North East regional award, chosen by our panel of expert judges:

Vincent Efferoth - Tea Venture Limited

Driven by his boredom with the alcoholic drink industry and passion for mixology, Vincent began experimenting with alcoholic tea blends, along with business partner Lukas. Tea Venture went on to raise £220k from crowdfunding, and its NOVELTEA product has since secured listings in five Fenwick stores, 17 John Lewis stores and Harrods. Vincent hopes to start selling internationally in the coming months.

Charlie Gibbs - Steampunk Limited

Charlie Gibbs is the entrepreneur behind Gateshead-based Steampunk Gin. The brand is stocked in 29 Morrisons supermarkets and has recently diversified to create a gin & tonic fudge. Steampunk runs 'gin masterclasses' and is currently in talks with a soft drinks manufacturer hoping to produce a pre-mixed drink. Charlie is also working on a radio documentary, provisionally entitled 'Cin-Cin, the rise and rise of Gin'.

Andy Haddon - Earth Doctors Limited

Andy aims to establish an alternative to the global food system, and created Earth Doctors, which develops projects that showcase innovative approaches to local food. As an incubator, Earth Doctors has also helped to nurture other projects that allow local food to be made available and be affordable to all communities. The company also manufactured a pilot plant producing biochar in 2014.

Rebecca Riley - Kalma Baby Ltd

When Rebecca noticed a gap in the market for baby groups that focus on child development, she launched a programme of children’s yoga classes that she could fit around childcare. After seeing demand grow quickly, she launched a franchise model to give other parents the opportunity to work flexibly. So far, Kalma Baby has seen 15,000 children through the door.

Holly Thompson - Future Skills Vision

After working in education for many years, Holly Thompson set up Future Skills Vision to help businesses improve and grow by building an effective talent pipeline. Future Skills Vision blends apprenticeships, graduate and internship schemes with up-skilling & retraining opportunities.

The Emerging Entrepreneur Award for the North East is sponsored by Northumbria University. Lucy Winskell OBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Employability and Partnerships) at Northumbria, said: “Our judging panel has been enormously impressed by the entrepreneurial talent, drive and determination of the shortlisted businesses in this category.

“They are a diverse mix of enterprises at varying stages of development, but are all successful and making an impact in their sectors. Essential qualities such as innovation and creativity are also being matched by a strong sense of social entrepreneurship, so their growth is having wider benefits at a community and ultimately a regional level.”

For more information on the event, click here.