THE INSPIRE14 Business Awards are now open for entries.

Organised by Destination Basingstoke, and arguably Hampshire’s most prestigious business awards, INSPIRE14 will celebrate the success and achievement of businesses from Andover in the west, through to Aldershot in the east.

Destination Basingstoke managing director Felicity Edwards said: “The INSPIRE14 Business Awards promise to be bigger and better than ever.”

Speaking at De Vere Venues Highfield Park, in Heckfield, at a launch event for sponsors, Felicity said: “Each year, the quality of entries and calibre of businesses gaining recognition and reward for their inspirational achievements has gone from strength to strength.

“Now that INSPIRE14 is open for entries, now is the time for businesses to put themselves forward to be in with the chance of picking up an award at the November ceremony.”

All but one of the 13 categories for this year’s awards have already been sponsored.

Among the sponsors is a new name to INSPIRE, Asset Advantage, which is sponsoring the Service Excellence Award.

The company, based at Matrix House in the centre of Basingstoke, specialises in providing lease-based funding across a wide range of equipment for small and medium-sized businesses.

Credit and risk director Philip Knight is looking forward to reviewing entries for the category, as Asset Advantage sets great store on providing first-class customer service.

The company, which employs 25 people, has been based in Basingstoke for five years.

Philip said: “The business is at a stage where we feel it is important to promote ourselves more locally.

“We lend money nationally, but we are keen to develop links with local businesses, and INSPIRE14 is a great way of doing this.”

HSBC is increasing its support for the business awards as Thames Valley and north Hampshire area commercial director John Wilkinson explained.

He said: “We have become an event sponsor as well as an award sponsor for the International Business of the Year category.

“We see this as an investment from us into the local community to promote ambitious businesses that are going to grow.

“As part of an overall drive to support businesses that are growing, we have got £100 million to lend through the Thames Valley north Hampshire area.”

John added: “We are very much looking forward to INSPIRE14. It’s a really good high-profile event for us to support.”

Diane Fairbairne, who is a relationship manager for Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “We were an event sponsor last year, but this year we decided we wanted to be a sponsor for one of the awards – the Innovation Excellence Award.

“This fits in nicely with the innovation we have at Santander, especially with our Breakthrough Programme, that is all about funding for fast growing SMEs.”

Diane who has personally been involved with the INSPIRE Business Awards since 2007, said: “Last year was amazing – the entries were probably the best I’ve seen.

“I think they were superb and the calibre and volume were much higher than I had seen before and I hope this will be the case again this year.

Helen Floor, who is a director of 1-1Recruitment, is keen to use her business to help promote INSPIRE14.

The firm, which has an office in Faraday Road, Basingstoke, is like last year, sp0onsoriong the Entrepreneur of the Year category.

“I cannot wait to see who is going to apply this time,” said Helen.

“Deciding on last year’s winner was quite a hard decision.”

Another INSPIRE14 event is taking place in Aldershot on Tuesday June 3. The 12pm-2pm event is being organised by Rushmoor Borough Council and will be held at Smith Dorrien Building, in Queen’s Avenue.

Register for the event at