With entries for the annual Dorset Business Awards now closed, the time has come for judges to choose the county’s top companies and most enterprising individuals.

Now in its 21st year, the region’s premier business awards programme, in association with the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo, is searching for winners across 11 categories – the most in the history of the event:

• Business Engagement with the Community Award, sponsored by J.P. Morgan
• Business Growth Award, sponsored by Advanced Exchequer
• Dorset Export Award, sponsored by Atlas Elektronik UK
• Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by Bournemouth University
• Excellence in Innovation Award, sponsored by Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Liz Lean PR
• Hays Team of the Year Award – new category
• Lester Aldridge and Santander Company of the Year Award
• Nuffield Health Excellence in Customer Service Award
• Princecroft Willis Family Business Award
• Retail Experience Award, sponsored by the Dolphin Shopping Centre
• VoIP Unlimited Business Engagement with Education Award – new category

Backed by the south’s leading radio station Wave 105, the Awards is welcoming two brand-new categories to this year’s event. The Hays Team of the Year Award aims to recognise the hard work and professionalism of a team which has exceeded expectations, while the VoIP Unlimited Business Engagement with Education Award is looking to honour a business which has established a positive partnership with a local school, university or education programme.

Each award category will have a team of three judges analysing each entry form against the individual award criteria. Judges now have until Friday October 9 to shortlist 33 finalists, three for each award, from the submitted entries.

The 2015 finalists will be invited to attend the “Meet the Finalists” drinks reception on Monday November 16at the Italian Villa, Compton Acres, where they will network with fellow finalists and awards sponsors. This will be followed by a glamorous Gala Dinner Awards ceremony at the Windsor Hall in the Bournemouth International Centre on Thursday November 26, where the overall winners will be announced.

Ian Girling, chief executive of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says: “This is our biggest ever Dorset Business Awards and with two brand-new categories to decide on, it’s going to be a tough few weeks of deliberation for our judges.

“It has been another bumper year for entries, partly due to us increasing our Award categories. It just goes to show how much pride there is in the Dorset business community.”

Tickets purchased for the black tie Awards Gala Dinner cost £85 + VAT (Chamber members), £95 + VAT (non-Chamber members) or £800 + Vat for a table of 10 (Chamber members) or £900 + VAT (non-Chamber members).  To book places please call Lorraine Hubbard on 01202 714810.