THE search is on for the brightest business stars in the county with the launch of the 2004 Hampshire Business Awards.

Sponsors Bond Pearce, KPMG and The Royal Bank of Scotland are encouraging Hampshire companies to get an application form in plenty of time for the entry deadline of June 18.

Up for grabs are The Bond Pearce Innovation Award, the KPMG Company of the Year Award and The Royal Bank of Scotland International Trade Award.

Basingstoke companies have had success at the Hampshire Business Awards. Scott Wilson, the Basing View-based firm of international consultants, is the current holder of the Business of the Year Award - a category that has also been won by Centerprise International, the Hampshire International Business Park-based computer manufacturer which is headed by Rafi Razzak.

Nick Page, of law firm Bond Pearce, added: "With past years illustrating that Hampshire is a real centre for exciting innovative businesses, we are keen to hear from as many of them as we can."

Tony Cottam, of KPMG, said: "The application form is straight-forward - it just needs a bit of planning and thought."

This year, companies with a focus on international activity have an opportunity to blaze a trail as the winner of the brand-new RBS International Trade Award.

Mark Price, regional director of corporate banking at the bank, said: "With the international award running for the first time this year, it's a great opportunity for a company with a commitment to exporting or importing to set the standard for other internationally-focused businesses to follow."

Entry forms are available by telephoning 023 8020 2051 or by e-mail at