By Claire West

Businesses from across the UK were named “Business Heroes” as Cisco today announced the results of its hunt to find Britain’s smart businesses. In its inaugural year, the Business Heroes Awards were made up of six categories, each celebrating shining examples of the UK’s most enter­prising small businesses.

The contest to find the UK’s most resilient businesses, in association with Management Today, saw Cisco award the title of “Business Hero” to six firms across the UK and in a variety of sectors, including recruitment, sustainability, technology and manufacturing. Six other companies were also named as highly commended in each category.

David Critchley, Cisco UKI director of Small and Medium Enterprises, said: “The winners of the Business Heroes Awards are testament to the fact the UK is full of thriving and innovative SMEs of all shapes and sizes. From technology to sustainability, international expansion to successful start-ups, the quality of this year’s entries has been outstanding, and it’s great to see these businesses not only rise to their own individual challenges but also thrive in the wider context of a truly testing marketplace. We want to extend our congratulations to them all!”

The competition was judged by a panel of business experts, including Doug Richard, Dragons' Den investor and serial entrepreneur; Michelle Dewberry, Apprentice winner and founder of The Daily Chic; David Hathiramani, founder of bespoke tailor A Suit That Fits; Management today’s Hannah Prevett; and Cisco’s own David Critchley.

“We were impressed by the high standard of entries across the board, but especially in the Mumpreneur and New Kid on the Block categories,” commented Dough Richards. “UK entrepreneurs are regularly compared with their US counterparts, but I think the high calibre of submissions shows that we can compete on a level playing field with our peers across the globe.'”

This year’s Business Heroes are:

WikiJob — The winner in the New Kid on the Block category, which recognises the most impressive start-ups that are under two years old, is the UK’s first graduate-focused careers website, designed and run by recent graduates.

Rated People — The UK’s largest online trade recommendation service, which helps to connect over 15,000 people with expert tradespeople, was honoured with the Technovator award, which celebrates companies using technology to transform their businesses.

Women Like Us - The winners in the Mumpreneur category, which honours women who combine running a successful start-up with raising young children, is a specialist recruitment agency that helps thousands of professional women find part-time work with hours to suit family life.

Richard Edward Limited — The True Grit category sought out a company that demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity, and this year’s winner certainly did that. Richard Edward Limited has navigated its way through the changing landscape of manufacturing in the UK, diversifying into the niche market of manufacturing game cards, playing cards and trading cards.

Closed Loop Recycling - The UK’s first food-grade plastics recycler, were named the winner in this year’s Green King category. Its state-of-the-art recycling plant in Dagenham processes 35,000 tonnes of waste per year that would otherwise be exported for recycling or sent to a landfill.

P2i — The Borderless Business winner is the world leader in liquid repellent nano-coating technology. Headed up by an American CEO and a British scientist, it has steadily built a global revenue base, with over 75% of customers located outside the UK.

Hannah Prevett, section editor, Management Today, commented, “What was unique about this competition is that we really saw the breadth of UK businesses. Going to visit our winners on their home turf offered us a unique perspective into the inner workings of UK SMEs. It also showed that, contrary to popular opinion, UK manufacturing is very much alive and kicking; there is something magical about visiting a factory where things are actually made from scratch. Visiting the plant of our Green King winner, Closed Loop Recycling, was like being at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.”