We all love a good news story. So, at a time when many businesses face considerable challenges, it is inspiring to see local companies finding a way to make the best of difficult times and achieve outstanding success – and none more so than winners of the King’s Award for Enterprise.
The King’s Awards for Enterprise (KAE) are for outstanding achievement by UK businesses in the categories of Innovation, International Trade, Sustainable Development and Promoting Opportunity Through Social Mobility.
The awards are self-nominating, with an organisation completing its own forms and submitting them for appraisal. It involves a rigorous review of the business, and the process itself is of value, as well as meaning that the award has rigour and prestige. The awards, which are awarded personally by the King, are valid for five years.
Punching above our weight
This year, Northamptonshire had a record number of winners as well as a significantly higher number of applications, which went against a declining trend nationally.
This followed an initiative of the Lord-Lieutenant James Saunders Watson, led by one of his Deputies, Guy Schanschieff DL MBE, the founder of Brixworth-based Bambino Mio, itself a previous award winner.
The first awards were made in 1966. They offer recognition for an organisation’s achievements and validation for the whole workforce as well as the innovation, initiatives, products or services it has been delivering. Such validation can be a real fillip to staff morale, act as a powerful selling tool and provide reassuring confidence for commercial partners.
Are you eligible?
To be eligible for a King’s Award, which is open to for-profits and not-for-profits, an organisation must be based in the UK, have at least two full-time UK employees or part-time equivalents, file its company tax returns on time with HMRC and be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products or services under its own management – as well as demonstrating strong corporate social responsibility.
The specific criteria for each category include:
■ International Trade – a minimum of £100,000 in overseas sales and outstanding growth relative to your business size and sector
■ Innovation – an invention, design or production of goods, performance of services, marketing and dis- tribution or after-sale support, that has not been sold before and has been available for at least two years
■ Sustainable Development – outstanding sustainable development achieved for more than two years, with evi- dence of the benefits or positive outcomes of your actions
■ Promoting Opportunity through social mobility – evidence of the benefits of supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds in improving their job skills and their chances of finding work, through providing work experience, careers advice or mentoring; offering interview and job-related training; all with recruitment processes open to everyone.
The awards are free to enter and applications are submitted online. Winners are announced in April and the new application round opens on May 1 each year. Winners enjoy the following:
■ A Royal Reception at Buckingham Palace
■ The official Grant of Appointment document
■ A commemorative crystal trophy
■ Permission to fly the King’s Award flag
■ Use of the KAE emblem for marketing for five years
Award winners report benefiting from worldwide recognition, greater press coverage, a boost to staff morale and an almost immediate increase in sales.
There is still time until the September deadline to apply, so now is a good time to start building your case and preparing your application, with the full support of previous winners and the Lieutenancy.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel, help put Northamptonshire even more on the Royal map!