By Claire West

The coveted Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which celebrates the achievements of the UK’s leading young entrepreneurs, is now open for entries.
The Award offers up-and-coming business owners aged 16-30 the opportunity for national recognition, as well as a substantial financial boost of £10,000 for their business. Shell LiveWIRE is one Britain’s longest running youth entrepreneur awards and was established in 1982 as a Shell Social Investment Programme. Previous winners and finalists include successful entrepreneurs Robert Matthams from Shiply.com and Jamie Murray-Wells from Glasses Direct.
Innocent Smoothies won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Greater London Final in 2000 — the company’s first ever business award. Innocent has since grown from 4 staff to over 200, and now has a turnover of £128m.

Recent polling by Shell LiveWIRE of its online business community suggests entrepreneurism continues to thrive in the UK in spite of the challenging external environment. Two thirds (66%) of those polled expect their business to grow this year and one third (32%) plan to hire new staff. Additionally, a quarter (25%) of business owners say the recession has actually inspired them to refocus their business vision and challenged them to identify new areas of growth.

The 2009 winner of the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Robert Matthams, founded Shiply.com, a transport website matching people moving goods with delivery companies already making similar journeys. Since winning the award, Shiply.com has grown by 200%, expanding its customer base to over 14,000 transport companies and 120,000 consumers. This has helped save more than 10 million unnecessary road miles.

James Smith, Chairman of Shell UK, said: ‘Entrepreneurial spirit is vital to getting our economy going again. The Shell LiveWIRE award can provide a very timely boost to Britain’s entrepreneurs.’

Shell LiveWIRE also supports young entrepreneurs with its Grand Ideas Awards. Every month, up to five aspiring entrepreneurs are awarded a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award of £1,000 to fund an innovative project to help get their business idea off the ground. The enterprise scheme also hosts a business networking community at www.shell-livewire.org with 100,000 members, enabling the best business brains from every corner of the nation to share ideas, insights and inspiration with fellow entrepreneurs who understand the challenges they are facing.

The deadline for applications to the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award is 5pm on the 6th September 2010. To qualify for entry, applicants must be aged 16-30 and have been trading not less than three months and not more than 18 months on 6th September 2010. To find out more or to enter the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, visit www.shell-livewire.org