ICT and Internet Excellence could Attract Cash Awards

Northern Ireland businesses that can demonstrate tangible business benefits from using the Internet or information and communications technology, are being urged to put their names forward for the 2004 DTI/InterForum E-Commerce Awards.

The national awards, sponsored in Northern Ireland by Invest NI, were launched today. Featuring a total of 64 prizes across the UK in regional and national categories the awards this year offer a total of £204,000 in prize money. The overall national winner could walk away with an impressive £30,000.
The awards are open to businesses, public bodies, registered charities and not-for-profit organisations with fewer than 250 employees, which have been trading for at least one year. The categories are:
· E-business start-up
· E-business
· E-trading
· Best use of broadband
· Best use of teleworking
The winner of each regional category will win £2,000 in cash and a place in the national finals. National category winners will receive £8000 and the chance to be named overall champion.
Tracy Meharg, Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development in Invest NI says: “In today’s business climate the Internet and e-business is fundamental to the growth and success of almost every kind of organisation. In Northern Ireland we have a vibrant and growing e-business environment with many examples of small and medium sized businesses that are profiting from using the Internet and ICT.
“Invest NI has assisted over 1,000 companies to adopt broadband, and a further 1,000 companies with e-business advice and support. These awards give us the chance to celebrate and reward innovation in the use of technologies across the region”.
Last year’s Northern Ireland category winners were Fusion Antibodies, Segue Software, Sendit.com (formerly BlackStar) and Foyle Skills and Education Cluster. All reported that the publicity gained through the awards helped raise their profile, strengthening their brand and creating new business opportunities.

Ian Graham, Chief Executive of Momentum, comments: “Last year there were 91 entries from Northern Ireland, more than double the 2002 figure. We hope to see an even greater number of applications this year and I would urge eligible businesses to enter these awards both for the potential rewards offered and to inspire other businesses to embrace technology.”

The awards also include the National Innovation Awards, which have three categories and are awarded at a national level. Three National Innovation Category winners will receive an £8,000 cash prize and will compete with the national category winners for the overall prize.

The E-Commerce Awards are sponsored nationally by the Royal Bank of Scotland group. Information about entry criteria, judging guidelines and dates can be found at www.ecommerce-awards.co.uk The closing date for receipt of applications is 30th July 2004.