INNOVATIVE business leaders, who have grown their organisations while supporting the economic and social well-being of Dorset, are being invited to enter the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The title is among those being competed for in the 20th annual Dorset Business Awards in association with the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo.

Sponsored by Bournemouth University, last year’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award was presented to Matt Hawkins, chairman of C4L, a leading data centre and connectivity solutions provider. The judges said Mr Hawkins ‘demonstrated that his firm has sustained growth and innovation through having a clear vision and technical expertise and that his significant achievements, coupled with his drive, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial instincts, contributed to the judges’ decision to name him as the overall winner’.

Mr Hawkins said: “Winning was such an honour and the night was fantastic and marked a real milestone for me. It created a moment where I actually stopped and took time to be proud of what C4L has achieved.”

He added: “After the Champagne and plaudits, there really is a long-term significance to winning the award. It has definitely changed my working life for the better as in addition to being great publicity for C4L it’s brought new opportunities for me, such as mentoring others who are starting out where I did.”

The award is open to any company, team or individual in Dorset. Entrants must able to demonstrate the realisation of their entrepreneurial vision and how it has contributed to the economic and social wellbeing of the county. Those entrants shortlisted will be visited at their offices by the judging panel.

Entrants will need to evidence:

  • They are Dorset-based and trading as a sole trader, limited company, partnerships, social enterprise or charity
  • Why they should become Entrepreneur of the Year 
  • What obstacles they have overcome to achieve success and how
  • What their growth ambitions and key business objectives are for the future

Dean Patton, professor of entrepreneurship at Bournemouth University, said: “Bournemouth University is proud to be supporting the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, now in its seventh year.

“Through our support of the awards we are recognising that local businesses with a specific focus on growth and innovation will play a pivotal role in providing employment opportunities and supporting the future economic prosperity of this area.

“This award is designed to recognise exceptional individual talent or a company considered by the judges to be at the forefront of enterprise in the region.”

The awards are also backed by Wave 105 and are free to enter. Entries can be submitted at or forms can be printed and submitted on paper. The closing date is Friday, September 12.

Entrants do not need to be a member of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

For information about the awards, sponsorship opportunities or to reserve tickets for the gala dinner at the BIC on November 27, please call Shirley Ewart on 01202 714812.

Sponsor profile – Bournemouth University

Bournemouth University has developed a strong reputation for offering a wide range of opportunities and support for enterprise activity within the region.

Working with the local community and encouraging entrepreneurial activity allows BU to harness its strengths in adding value to new ventures.

Inspired by a clear vision, BU continues to develop new initiatives and programmes to help realise the potential of tomorrow’s employees and business leaders.