Wiltshire businesses have just under three weeks left to apply for this year’s Enterprising Wiltshire Awards.

The deadline for entering the new awards launched last autumn by Wiltshire Business Support Service, the Wiltshire Council-funded advice and networking resource for small businesses, is Thursday January 31.

More than 70 firms have already entered the competition and Chris Simpson, senior business manager at the Wiltshire Business Support Service, is urging businesses to send in their entry forms as soon as possible.

The Enterprising Wiltshire Awards will celebrate Wiltshire’s top exporters, innovators and start-ups while providing the ultimate winner – The Enterprising Wiltshire Awards Business of the Year – with a bespoke package of support and networking opportunities to help it fulfil its potential.

Mr Simpson said: “We’ve had a great response from businesses right across the county and we’re still getting enquiries.

"We’re also delighted with the sheer variety of businesses that have entered including a cave diving firm, parenting programmes, bookkeepers, hairdressers, pop-up shops, classic car restorers and wine importers. It’s an amazing snapshot of what’s going on in the commercial world in Wiltshire.

“Our aim is to support and promote business in the county, showcasing the benefits of trading here. We want to find both new and existing businesses that are doing something really special and then give them the practical help and encouragement to take the next step.”

Shortlisting will take place on February 8 with finalists being announced during the week commencing February 11.

The 10 award winners will then be announced at a gala event on March 22 at Wiltshire Council’s headquarters in Trowbridge.

The awards’ judges, drawn from Wiltshire Council’s business and enterprise team, the Wessex Association of Chambers of Commerce and leading representatives from Wiltshire’s professional services and entrepreneurial community, will split the county into three zones – north, south and mid-Wiltshire.

Awards will be made in each of the three zones for Best Exporter, Best Innovator and Best Start-up. In addition, one of the nine finalists will be named The Enterprising Wiltshire Awards Business of the Year.

Winners of the nine categories will each receive a cash prize of £1,000. The business of the year will receive an additional £500, bringing its total prize to £1,500, but most importantly a comprehensive package of business support, advice and networking opportunities provided by the team at the Wiltshire Business Support Service.

Businesses have until Thursday January 31 to enter the awards. Entry is by completing a straight-forward online form available at www.wessexchambers.org.uk or for more information call (01225) 355553.

You can follow the awards on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wiltsbizawards.