O2 ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS

Three entrepreneurs from across the UK have today been named as the winners in a prestigious annual national small business competition, the O2 X Awards.

A successful entrepreneur and former full time mum from Milton Keynes was recognised as O2 X Female Entrepreneur of the Year and a marine biologist from Glasgow University has been named the O2 X Male Entrepreneur of the Year. Emerging young talent from within the small business community was also recognised, with a recent graduate named O2 X Young Entrepreneur of the Year. The winners were announced at the national final in central London.

The announcement sees the culmination of a six month nationwide search, which has seen the awards programme receive hundreds of entries from small businesses across the country and members of the public casting over 10,000 online votes for their favourite business.

Simon Devonshire, Head of O2 SME Marketing, comments: ‘The economic challenges of recent months appear to have done little to stifle the entrepreneurial spirit of the UK’s small business community. The calibre and number of entries we received bears witness to the resilient and determined attitude from entrepreneurs up and down the country and the breadth and variety of talent was truly exciting.’

Lisa Warner and her business, FINK, was named O2 X Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2009. FINK (Fun Interaction Nurtures Kids) was created by Lisa as a means of bringing families together through communication games and distributes colourful question based card games to prompt conversation among families and young people.

Sunil Kadri was named O2 X Male Entrepreneur of the Year 2009 for his business, OptoSwim Technolgies, which is set to transform the commercial farmed fishing industry. Through a combination of scientific research and the innovative use of technology, marine biologist Sunil Kari has developed the first method of its kind in the world to stimulate growth in farmed fish. His business manufactures a specially configured LED light matrix, which stimulates optimal swimming speeds in farmed fish such as Salmon, drastically improving their growth levels and meat quality. The non mechanical technology is set to be installed in sea cages across the world

This year’s awards also saw the launch of a new category, the O2 X Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, which is aimed at recognising and rewarding entrepreneurs aged 25 and under for innovative or progressive business concepts. This year’s winner, Rajeeb Dey, was named winner for his business, Enternships, which connects students and graduates to start ups and SMEs worldwide who provide entrepreneurial work placements.

Each winner will receive £5,000 to invest in their business as well as business mentoring from the accomplished entrepreneurs, Nicky Kinnaird, Shaf Rasul and Michelle Dewberry respectively.

Shaf Rasul, entrepreneur and star of BBC Dragons Den, comments: ‘The O2 X Awards have identified three fantastic small businesses that are really pushing back the boundaries and doing something genuinely different. Small businesses are the back bone of the UK economy and the hard work, innovation and talent of these entrepreneurs thoroughly deserves to be recognised.’

Launched in 2003, The O2 X Awards provide a valuable platform for small businesses to highlight their achievements at a grass roots level through to national awareness. Selection criteria focus on cutting edge innovation, creative vision and a drive to succeed.

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