London: UK business leaders who have shown drive and innovation in starting and growing companies in challenging economic conditions, have today been named as finalists in Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Of The Year.
Following a record number of applications, 150 of the UK's most entrepreneurial businessmen and women are competing to win the prestigious title.
The awards, which provide a boost to established and unsung heroes across all sectors, will see finalists judged in regional heats across London and South, Midlands, the North and Scotland during June culminating in the final in October.
In London, finalists include Robin Rowland of YO! Sushi, Stephen Stone of Crest Nicholson, and Tim Ewington and Michael Souter of ShortList Media. In the Midlands entrepreneurs include Tony Seaman and Paul Stobbs of Attraction World, Trevor Finn of Pendragon, and Jayne Cresswell and Jayne Hulbert of the Sweet Project. In the North, entrepreneurs include Fred Done of Betfred, Royden Evans of PlumbNation and Dawn Cranswick of Project North East. In Scotland, names include Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne of Genius Foods, Kevin Dorren of Diet Chef and Tony Hackney of BSW Timber Group.
The judging panel will make its decision based on a number of criteria. These include entrepreneurial spirit; innovation; strategic direction; leading and building teams; financial performance; national and global impact; and companies' approach to social responsibility. The competition this year will also include a new private equity category and an international award. The UK panel is led by Lord Browne of Madingley, the former Chief Executive of BP.
The prestigious awards sponsored by Credit Suisse, and won last year by Stephen Catlin, Chief Executive of international insurer Catlin Group, have been running for two decades. Former category winners have included Hilary Devey, star of BBC's Dragons's Den and former Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Matthew Riley, of Daisy Group plc, who grilled candidates on last year's The Apprentice.
Stuart Watson: Ernst & Young UK Leader of Entrepreneur Of The Year, said: "The finalists represent the current crop of business superstars, who despite a challenging economic environment are propelling growth and innovation.
"With total determination, self-belief and commitment to succeed, the entrepreneurs have managed to spot opportunities which are helping to transform companies, entire sectors, and quite often society as a whole."