“Recipients of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion (QAEP) are outstanding individuals who are inspiring tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and giving them the skills and attitudes they need to succeed,” explains Lord Mandelson. “They hold the key to unlocking Britain’s entrepreneurial talents and they deserve all the praise and thanks we can give them.” Nominations can be made online at www.queensawards.org.uk/individual up until October 30, 2009.
Just 11 people in the UK received the award in 2009. Among them was James Murray Wells, the 26-year old entrepreneur and founder of online prescription glasses retailer Glasses Direct and the youngest ever person to be awarded The QAEP. “When I launched Glasses Direct five years ago, I was offered funding from ten business angels. But it wasn’t just the capital on offer that was useful – it was their invaluable mentoring advice, which helped me really kickstart the business and get it going,” comments Murray Wells.
The Glasses Direct founder is now helping other budding entrepreneurs. Take Ryan Notz, founder of online construction marketplace mybuilder.com, for example. Murray Wells introduced the former stonemason to potential investors, marketing practitioners and enterprise support initiatives and helped him successfully raise his first funding round. As a result, mybuilder.com is now a multi-million pound business with building materials retailer Travis Perkins as an investor. Lord Mandelson is also urging businesses to apply for the business categories of The Queen’s Awards, widely regarded as the equivalent of a company knighthood. Any UK-based business with two or more employees, which can demonstrate outstanding and sustained commercial success in its field has a chance of winning a Queen’s Award. There are three categories of business Award: international trade, innovation and sustainable development. A survey of last year’s winners found that in the first year alone, three quarters experienced extra press coverage, 82 per cent saw an increase in employee engagement and 68 per cent increased recognition abroad. Check out www.queensawards.org.uk for more details.