EIGHT county businesses have been announced as finalists in this year's Hampshire Business Awards.

The judges of the prestigious awards, backed by the Daily Echo and sponsored by law firm Bond Pearce, accountants KPMG and The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), have now named the organisations which are in the final reckoning to win one of the three sought-after accolades.

They are (in alphabetical order): The Bond Pearce Innovation Award l Crown Media LLP - media consultancy based in Brockenhurst l The Luberation Laboratory - Alton-based manufacturer and supplier of organic lubricant l Milmega Ltd - designer and manufacturer of solid state high power broadband amplifiers from Ryde, Isle of Wight KPMG Company of the Year l Chewton Glen Hotel - country house hotel and spa in New Milton; l Garmin Europe Ltd - Totton-based distributor of mobile navigation devices l Raymond Brown Minerals & Recycling Ltd - aggregate and minerals company based in Nursling The RBS International Trade Award l ACW Technology Ltd - electronics manufacturer based in Hedge End l Femcare-Nikomed Ltd - Romsey-based supplier of products for gynaecology, urology and general surgery l Garmin Europe Limited - see above Simon Pickett of RBS said: "This year's line-up represents an excellent mix of organisations from different industries with the manufacturing, consumer products, technology, tourism and service sectors all represented.

"The current economic environment is proving to be tough, but the resilience, strength and achievements of these eight companies is a real source of inspiration."

The shortlist has been produced following a rigorous six-week judging process, which consisted of a review of all entries, a series of site visits and presentations from companies in the running for the final stage.

Each of the three awards' judging panels, made up of leading Hampshire business figures, then met to reach their conclusions.

Nick Page of Bond Pearce said: "It was a really tough decision to produce a shortlist of just three companies in each category. We had very strong contenders and would like to thank all those who entered this year."

Phil Cotton of KPMG added: "There are just over six weeks to go until our awards dinner at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, where we are looking forward to announcing this year's winners."

Each of the finalists will be profiled in greater depth in Business South in the next few weeks, ahead of the awards dinner on Thursday, September 25.