Entrepreneurs who impress Sir Tom and his fellow judges, former Prince’s Trust director Geraldine Gammell and Evening News Editor Tom Little, will also win the chance to be taken under the wing of Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden.
The competition is part of a £15 million national Local Business Accelarators campaign, which has been praised by Prime Minister David Cameron for helping boost new businesses and the economic recovery.
Sir Tom said: “It is recognised that a substantial part of the growth in the economy and the creation of jobs will have to come from small to medium-sized companies. The Evening News must be praised for playing its part in supporting businesses in this way.”
Three competition winners chosen by the judges will collect a package of free advertising in the Evening News and a three-month mentoring programme led by Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s team of business mentors and advisors.
They will also go forward to the final round, where they will compete with businesses from across the UK for the chance to be mentored for a year by the campaign’s national ambassador Deborah Meaden, below.
Anyone running a business that has operated for between one and three years is invited to enter. A shortlist will then be selected to pitch to the panel.
The nationwide campaign has seen £15 million of free advertising pledged by newspapers.
Praising the campaign, the Prime Minister said: “In towns and cities across the country, local and regional newspapers are helping to build stronger local communities and contributing to growth by supporting local businesses. They have a major role to play in championing growth.
“Those that will benefit from the initiative are the very businesses and entrepreneurs that will help to lead Britain’s recovery.”
The chamber’s director of operations Liz McAreavy said: “The Chamber of Commerce is delighted to support this very worthwhile project by bringing to bear the wealth of experience it has gained through many years of delivering invaluable work helping enterprises flourish and grow through our Business Gateway, mentoring and High Growth Business programmes.
“Our core existence as an organisation is based upon helping businesses grow and to find new markets for their products and services, so we are well-placed to provide genuine expertise to the project.”
Geraldine Gammell added: “Getting the right kind of advice and support is vital when you are trying to grow your business, and this project will help to provide it. I am happy to back the Evening News in its efforts.”
Entries close on November 14. To apply, visit www.accelerateme.co.uk