Branson Starts Search For Britain’s Best New Business

Founded by Virgin Media in 2010, the free peer-to-peer network supports more than 6,000 young people, providing mentoring, advice and unique business opportunities. This year there are two chances for innovators to ‘Pitch to Rich’ and a panel of prestigious judges. The winning prize package for each award includes £5,000 of investment plus mentoring, including legal, branding and marketing advice, as well as an opportunity for the winners to build their network and raise their profile in order to further their prospects.

The Start Up Award, in partnership with Virgin StartUp, is for businesses in their first 12 months of trading. It is open to entrepreneurs with any type of early stage business that meets the Government Start Up Loans scheme criteria. Every entrant will be supported in an application to seek funding and a business mentor with the newly formed Virgin StartUp not-for-profit organisation.

The Innovation Award is for successfully trading small technology businesses looking to make the next leap forward. The winner will be offered free enrolment to the Accelerator Academy – an established 12-week, high-growth training and mentoring programme for ambitious digital entrepreneurs with training, mentoring free workspace and access to capital. All semi-finalists will receive an HP tablet to help them manage their businesses.

Tom Mockridge, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Media, said: “The online world is powering Britain’s economic growth and transforming the prospects of young entrepreneurs. Our network puts Virgin Media at the heart of this information superhighway and with Virgin Media Pioneers we provide opportunities for them to accelerate their ambitions as we champion the next generation of digital innovators.”

Sir Richard Branson, Pioneer-At-Large of Virgin Media Pioneers and founder of the Virgin Group, said: “Starting a business with very little capital is something I can relate to but with a little backing early on and the right idea, anything is possible. I’m looking forward to meeting more of Britain’s best young entrepreneurs through the Start Up Award. The Innovation Award is about propelling the next great British tech business forward so we’re looking for disruptive businesses who could one day give Silicon Valley a run for their money.”