Judges unanimous as Small Business Commissioner joins National Enterprise Awards panel

Judges unanimous as Small Business Commissioner joins National Enterprise Awards panel

NEN members and organisations from across England’s enterprise sector gathered on 26th November for the enterprise support event of the year, in which six winners were announced and a further five organisations were highly commended.

Small Business Commissioner Liz Barclay has congratulated enterprise support organisations on their achievements at the National Enterprise Network Awards ceremony.

Ms Barclay is the first woman to hold the Office of Small Business Commissioner and an outspoken advocate of micro enterprises and small businesses. In addition to judging the awards, Ms Barclay addressed the NEN Annual Conference which preceded the awards ceremony. She took to Twitter on Monday 29th November, saying;

Congratulations to everyone who won at the @NatEntNet Awards on Friday. It was a great afternoon, the winners well deserving and the rest of the shortlisted businesses can be very proud of getting so close.

Judging was a nightmare given how many great businesses were in the running, and it was an honour to be asked to be on the panel. Good luck to all for the coming year.

Click the image to watch a recording of Liz Barclay’s speech at the NEN conference, which was streamed live on 26 November 2021

Despite the difficulty in narrowing down the fifteen-strong shortlist to the final six, the panel were unanimous in their selection of the winners.

The NEN Awards were established in 2007 to recognise excellence and impact in the enterprise support sector as part of our commitment to organisations who inspire and encourage small businesses in England.

Fellow judges this year were Matt Smith, Director of Policy and Research at the Global Entrepreneurship Network and Alex Till, CEO of Menta Business and Chairman of the National Enterprise Network.

The 2021 conference entitled ‘Future-proofing the enterprise ecosystem’ was hosted virtually, in association with Barclays Eagle Labs, on the last Friday in November. Broadcast media expert Nicholas Pandolfi acted as compare, with a welcome address and heartfelt message of thanks from the network’s Chairman, Alex Till.

Following Liz Barclay’s keynote, which was streamed live on You Tube, a further six guest speakers took the spotlight, including academics from two leading UK business schools specialising in entrepreneurship research and education.

Look back at the 2021 conference programme here.

Speaking to the conference from the Eagle Lab in Cambridge, Mr Till made these remarks as he officially closed the 2021 conference;

…to all of our speakers today, for the energy, the passion and the engagement  – all of the things that you’re so readily involved with across the whole if the country – many many thanks. Most of all, thanks to the [NEN] members and to their members of staff… The self employment agenda is something that we all believe in and we’re all working very hard at driving that forward at the moment. With the support of people like Liz Barclay and [our other guest speakers] it’s actually getting noticed and getting heard.

The 2021 Winners

Enterprise Support Organisation of the Year (for organisations with a turnover > £750,000)
Awarded to Let’s Do Business Group 

Judges comments: Excellent adaptation to online services to ensure continuity throughout the pandemic. They became a Not for Profit lender of the Business Interruption Loan Scheme through NEN’s strategic partner British Business Bank.

Enterprise Support Organisation of the Year (for organisations with a turnover < £750,000)
Awarded to Birmingham Enterprise Community

Judges comments: They continue to build on their experience in creating, monitoring & reporting social impact and have established international partners in Australia and Mumbai; incredible achievements for a small team who are young entrepreneurs themselves.

Innovation in Education Award
Awarded to Enterprise Exchange

Judges comments: With the help of an Innovate UK grant, Enterprise Exchange have pioneered the first ever in-cell self-employment course at HMP Belmarsh. They filmed a complete course in 360 which participants can work on in their cells, despite COVID lockdown and restrictions. They’re now awaiting authorisation for the inmates to explore the course further using Virtual Reality headsets.

Enterprise Champion of the Year Award
Awarded to Aisha Elliott from Somerset Business Agency

Judges comments: “A highly valued team player who brings experience working with individuals with employment barriers and commitment to promoting diversity and combating marginalisation throughout the South-West.”

Sustainability in Enterprise Award
Awarded to Project North East

Judges comments: “PNE have created a strategically sustainable work environment for both their small business tenants and their employees. They really are passionate about reducing their own carbon footprint and supporting eco-conscious entrepreneurs.”

Social Impact in Enterprise Award
Awarded to RIFT Social Enterprise

Judges comments: “Andy Gullick and his team are helping those “furthest from the jobs market” to realise their dreams of self-employment, including the long-term unemployed and those who have been through the criminal justice system. They have developed a fantastic 360 mentoring scheme to be very proud of.”

Highly Commended

Enterprise Support Organisation of the Year (for organisations with a turnover < £750,000): RIFT Social Enterprise

Innovation in Education Award: The Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship

Enterprise Champion of the Year Award: Geoff Ranson from StartUp Croydon

Social Impact in Enterprise Award: John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Bank and Be Inspired Today Ltd

See the full list of shortlisted organisations this year.