THE biggest celebration of business excellence in the county has started with the launch of the Daily Echo-backed Hampshire Business Awards 2011.

Now in its 21st year, Hampshire Business Awards is the premier annual business competition in the region, providing a showcase for the exceptional strength, flair and innovation of businesses from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

In spite of the economic recession, many organisations have continued to perform strongly, and the awards offer the opportunity to celebrate the continuing business success.

This year’s awards promise to be the biggest yet, with rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood confirmed as the guest speaker at an exclusive gala awards dinner at Avington Park on September 22.

The awards are being held in association with the Confeder-ation of British Industry (CBI), which joins as a sponsor, national commercial law firm Bond Pearce, business advisers KPMG, and The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Three categories are open for entries: the Bond Pearce Technology and Innovation Award, KPMG Company of the Year, and RBS Management Team of the Year.

Judges are keen to learn of the creativity, determination and success demonstrated by local businesses, who can enter as many of the categories as they wish by the June 10 deadline.

The winners will join an illustrious stable, including last year’s winners The Southern Co-operative, Novatech and i2O Water.

Dan Salanson, head of corporate banking for RBS in the Solent, said: “Our award looks to recognise management teams that have demonstrated operational and strategic excellence to drive the success of their business.

“Competition in this category is always fierce – Hampshire has a wealth of talented management teams working across a broad range of companies – and we are excited to look forward to discovering more this year.”

Will Smith, partner at KPMG’s south coast office, said: “Every year the sheer quality and range of entries we receive makes it very difficult for the judges to select winners.

“Despite difficult economic conditions, business in the Hampshire region has shown extraordinary resolve and adaptability facing economic challenges head-on. We’ll be looking for companies that have demonstrated these qualities and been able to maximise the opportunities available to them.”

Nick Page, partner at Bond Pearce, said: “The challenging economic climate and ever more competitive world we find ourselves in provide an even greater impetus for businesses to innovate and to develop new technologies so that they are able to compete effectively in their markets.

“With a broader award category this year we hope to attract entries from both technology-driven companies as well as businesses which have embraced innovation in order to give themselves a competitive edge.”

Malcolm Hyde, director of CBI’s south-east office, added: “We are excited to be part of the celebration of the significant achievements made by Hampshire and Isle of Wight businesses this year.”

l To submit an entry to the awards go to