THERE is just a week left for the region’s market leading companies to enter Hampshire’s top business awards.

Organisers of the South Coast Business Awards 2014 are reminding candidates the deadline for entries is just eight days away.

The awards, now in their fourth year, are being organised by the Daily Echo in association with Trethowans Solicitors and in partnership with Business South and Destination Southampton.

It a chance for firms to gain wider recognition and acclaim for the work they do and winning has often been credited with boosting staff morale.

Nine prestigious gongs will be handed out to the region’s top firms at the black-tie evening in July.

The awards aim to raise standards, encourage competition, and recognise business excellence.

There are two new categories and a new sponsor this year. The Business South Commitment to the Region Award will recognise the business or organisation that has demonstrated commitment to the region as a major employer and involvement with their community. The Smith and Williamson Award for Best International Perfor-mance by a South Coast Company will be awarded to the firm that has best developed the international element of its business over the last three years.

Last year’s big winner was the Segensworth-based Saab Seaeye, which scooped the Trethowans Business of the Year Award.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce deputy chief executive Maureen Frost said: “The South Coast Business Awards have been growing year on year and the volume and quality of the entries has improved each time.

“It’s a real stamp of quality and external recognition and it does a lot to improve staff morale in the companies that are recognised.

The glitzy award ceremony will be held once again at the Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton on July 11.