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The inaugural Cambridge Independent Business Awards are now open for entry

This week, we are pleased to announce the launch of the inaugural Cambridge Independent Business Awards.

A celebration of all business sectors in the Cambridge region, the awards will culminate in a gala event in the magnificent Great Hall at King’s College on 26 September.

The awards will be held in the magnificent setting of the Great Hall at King's College, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
The awards will be held in the magnificent setting of the Great Hall at King's College, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Fourteen awards are now available to enter online at our dedicated site – and you can find all the category details below.

Editor Paul Brackley said: “The Cambridge region’s businesses are worthy of celebration.

“We are delighted to launch these awards, which are the first we have launched open to businesses of all sectors and sizes.

“We know from the experience of organising our successful and popular Science and Technology Awards how valuable it can be for companies to have public recognition. Not only are these awards a chance to congratulate your team, but also to let customers and collaborators know that your hard work and achievements have been independently recognised.

Cambridge Independent Business Awards 2024 logo
Cambridge Independent Business Awards 2024 logo

“We will be pleased to promote the work of our winners, who will be selected by an expert judging panel.

“I would like to thank the sponsors who have already come on board ahead of our launch and I would encourage businesses to get their nominations in – and see if they can be an inaugural winner of the Cambridge Independent Business Awards.”

Headline sponsor for the awards will be Barr Ellison, the Cambridge law firm.

Partner Kelly Peck will be among the judges.

The firm is marking 150 years of serving businesses this year, and in addition to backing our awards, is marking its anniversary year by supporting Arthur Rank Hospice Charity.

Barr Ellison partner Kelly Peck. Picture: Keith Heppell
Barr Ellison partner Kelly Peck. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cambridge BID (Business Improvement District) will be sponsoring the Award for Hospitality.

Maria Manion, chief executive of Cambridge BID, said: “The hospitality sector is an important part of the vitality of the city and these businesses form the backbone of a successful and vibrant city.

“The experience a customer receives can make or break someone’s perception of a city, if they will return and recommend the city to friends and relatives.

“We often take for granted the hospitality sector, however the range of skills to run a hospitality business in the city is wide and varied, ranging from complex business management, business forecasting, stock and staff management to understanding and ensuring staff have the skills in place to able to meet both the demands and expectations of the consumer, which can be both challenging and rewarding.

The Cambridge BID team. From left Helen Hames, Chris Douglas, Natalie Cargill, Maria Manion, Becky Burrell and Glen Sharp. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Cambridge BID team. From left Helen Hames, Chris Douglas, Natalie Cargill, Maria Manion, Becky Burrell and Glen Sharp. Picture: Keith Heppell

“This award recognises those businesses who make up the hospitality sector in the city and the exceptional skills of the staff working in those businesses which help make Cambridge the successful and vibrant city it is today.”

The Business of the Year section will be split into three categories: Small (1-24 employees), Medium (25-249 employees) and Large (250-plus employees).

Business of the Year (Small) will be supported by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) Growth Hub, which provides a fully-funded service for start-ups and SMEs with aspirations for future development and to connect your business with ongoing help and support – including signposting to funding programmes across our enriched region of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. You can contact the hub by emailing hello@cpcagrowthhub.co.uk.

A spokesperson said: “The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) Growth Hub are delighted to be involved with the prestigious Cambridge Independent Business Awards 2024.

“There is a strong synergy with the objectives of our organisation and particularly the category for Business of the Year (Small). We would like to encourage and invite many captivating entries for this category, and the other categories as well celebrating business excellence over the last 12 months.

“This is a superb platform to proudly showcase your business and share your success stories.

“Good luck to you all and enjoy the process.”

Fora Cambridge. Picture: Toby Mitchell
Fora Cambridge. Picture: Toby Mitchell

Business of the Year (Medium) will be sponsored by FORA, which provides flexible office spaces, including at 20 Station Road, Cambridge.

And Business of the Year (Large) will be sponsored by Conscious Communications.

Alison Taylor, CEO of Conscious Communications, said: “There are hundreds of outstanding and innovative businesses that contribute to our thriving economy and I know that these prestigious awards will be fiercely contested.

“As a local business owner, I have worked with and alongside many of the companies that will be competing in the various categories and we are very proud to be able to recognise and celebrate their extraordinary achievements.”

There are also some categories for individuals, including Business Person of the Year, sponsored by Kale & Damson, the wholesale catering food suppliers that was started nearly 30 years ago.

The awards are open for entry now to businesses in the Cambridge Independent circulation area via a form online at cambridgeindependent businessawards.co.uk – simply scan the QR code to go straight there.

Entry is free and will close at 11.59pm on 12 July.

The Categories

Share the story of your business success with us - it's free to enter
Share the story of your business success with us - it's free to enter

Business of the Year (Small)

Small businesses (1-24 employees) are the lifeblood of the economy. How is yours standing out from the crowd and making its way in a competitive environment? Show us how your offer is unique - and tell us what makes your business special.

Business of the Year (Medium)

This award will go to a company (25-249 employees) that can demonstrate real progress in the last year and an increasing market presence or impact. Tell us how your business is delivering for customers, has adapted or diversified and what makes it a success story.

Business of the Year (Large)

What has your team achieved over the last year? How are you reaching new customers or markets, and expanding your presence? How are you ensuring you are delivering for your clients? We look forward to hearing about your progress. For businesses with 250-plus employees.

Business Person of the Year

This award is for a business leader, owner or key figure who has had a major impact on their company’s success. We are also interested in how individuals are delivering benefits for others, including colleagues and those in the community. Nominees can enter themselves, or be nominated.

Social Enterprise of the Year

This award will go to an organisation that is making a great contribution to tackling social and environmental challenges in our region. Explain to us your purpose, demonstrate your impact and give us examples of how you are making a difference.

Green Award

This award will celebrate an organisation that has sustainability at its heart. How are you helping meet the environmental challenges of our time? Explain the changes you have made. Perhaps you are also helping others to do so through products or services, and benefitting the wider community.

Employer of the Year

This award recognises a business showing great commitment to its people and the community. Tell us how you are developing talent, perhaps through training, apprenticeships or career progression, and explain what you are doing for others around you, and how you are taking ESG seriously.

Apprentice / Trainee of the Year

This award is for a young person in an organisation who is going the extra mile and having a positive impact. They may be demonstrating notable success, have overcome adversity to achieve, or be using their success to help others.

Start-up of the Year

An award for a business in its first three years that is successfully navigating the challenging start-up phase and has a product or service that is already making its mark. Our judges will particularly look to reward an innovative approach within an industry. Explain to us the story of your origins, your growth and your impact so far.

Scale-up of the Year

If you've made it through the difficult start-up phase, congratulations. But the tough work doesn't end there. So we want to celebrate scale-up successes. Demonstrate to us how you're scaling and what has been behind your growth. Tell us what has enabled your trajectory, discussing funding and product development. We recognise that there are different definitions of scale-up - but typically, a scale-up is over three years old, has identified a repeatable business model and is growing strongly. Explain to us how you've done it for a chance to win.

Retailer of the Year

A chance to recognise a retailer that provides great service and customer care, along with an amazing choice of products all with a welcoming smile. Explain to us why your offer is special - and share your customer feedback with us.

Hospitality Business of the Year

This award salutes those in the hospitality sector who consistently elevate their guests' experience. Whether it's a hotel, restaurant, bar, coffee shop, conference facility, tour guide or any other business in the hospitality industry, we want to hear why your guests enjoy their time with you and come back for more.

Innovation of the Year

This award celebrates those daring to do something different. We want to hear how you have innovated with a new product or approach. Tell us how you identified the problem, approached the challenge and found a solution. Explain the breakthroughs you made and the progress to date - how has your innovation made a genuine difference and what has been its impact to date?

The Award for Collaboration

We’re often at our best when we work together. This category invites nominations from companies or organisations who have collaborated on a project with stellar results. Tell us how your partnership has helped solve a challenge that improves a product or service.

Our sponsors

The launch sponsors of the inaugural Cambridge Independent Business Awards 2024
The launch sponsors of the inaugural Cambridge Independent Business Awards 2024

Headline sponsor: Barr Ellison Law

A Cambridge law firm serving East Anglia, we have been trusted legal advisers to successful businesses since 1874. 150 years later we continue to deliver a shining service to clients, working hard to deliver their success. Barr Ellison Law looks forward to solving Cambridge’s legal challenges for another 150 years. We are celebrating our 150th anniversary by supporting the Arthur Rank Hospice. #StillShiningBrightly

Cambridge BID

Cambridge BID was established in 2013. It represents over 1,200 businesses in the city. We are funded directly by the businesses who pay a levy to the BID, this funding enables us to deliver a range of activities across the city. The two projects which we hope the majority of people are familiar with are the Cambridge Gift card, where we aim to keep spend local to the city and the Christmas lights and switch-on event. A few of the other projects we deliver include the summer and winter magazines; the Ambassadors; film nights; street dressing; reporting of environmental issues; commissioning of spot/emergency cleaning; Restaurant Week; the Arts Festival; the day to day delivery of Visit Cambridge and of course we manage all the social media channels for Love Cambridge, Cambridge BID and Visit Cambridge. Cambridge BID is also a sponsor of the current Standing Tall giraffe trail. You can find out more about Cambridge BID at: Cambridgebid.co.uk

Conscious Communications

We are an award-winning, B Corp certified agency committed to using our public relations and marketing expertise as a force for good. We combine strategic expertise and creativity with a set of ethics and principles that make us proud and reflect our sense of social responsibility.

CPCA Growth Hub

The CPCA Growth Hub is a fully funded service to connect your business with ongoing help and support. To provide key relevant information as required and signpost to funding programmes - to thrive and grow across our enriched region of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. Our other stream lines include Skills and Careers, Inward Investment, Life Sciences, Agri-Tech, Digital, Manufacturing, Decarbonisation and Green Tech.


Experience work like never before with flexible office spaces that celebrate your individual workstyle and empower you to work in your own unique way. Whether you need a private office, a whole floor or a dedicated desk, Fora offers workspace solutions for teams of all sizes at over 60 locations in Cambridge, across London, the UK and Germany.

Kale & Damson

Our founders started their wholesale business nearly 30 years ago. From there Kale & Damson has built up a trusted reputation for exceptional quality and inspirational ranges of produce, which later developed into Food Service. This is all backed by a team of people who combine passion with a deep understanding of ‘Farm-to-fork’ all with a down to earth manner, and honest way of doing business.

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