Just One Month to go to Win £40,000 In E-Commerce Awards

With just one month to go until the application deadline on 30th July, small and medium sized enterprises (SME's) across Northern Ireland are being urged to enter this year's DTI/InterForum E-Commerce Awards, for the chance to win a cash prize totalling £40,000.

The Awards recognise and reward SME’s across the UK for the innovative use of information and communication technologies to improve business performance. Sponsored in Northern Ireland by Invest NI the Awards are open to any organisation across the UK with fewer than 250 employees. All entries and nominations are free and can be made via the dedicated web site www.ecommerce-awards.co.uk.

Already hundreds of companies have started their entries, but time is running out to win a share of the £214,000 total cash prize fund.

Alan Neville, Director of Knowledge Management at Invest NI commented: “We would really encourage small organisations from across Northern Ireland to enter the E-Commerce Awards. Not only do they recognise and reward businesses that have achieved tangible benefits through their use of ICT, but they also give them the opportunity to share and draw on the experience and best practice of other companies.”

The Awards consist of regional heats with five different categories: e-business start-ups, e-trading, e-business, best use of broadband communications and best use of teleworking. The category winners from each region receive £2,000 and then go on to the national finals to compete with other regional category winners for an £8,000 national category prize. Last years local category winners include Fusion Antibodies Ltd, Segue Software Ltd, Blackstar and the Foyle Skills and Education Cluster or FOSEC.

This year’s Awards continue to reward those businesses which can demonstrate business excellence in: use of mobile & wireless technology, advanced supply chain integration, and, also new this year, best rural e-business. Each Innovation Category winner will be presented with an £8,000 cash prize, awarded at a national level.

All national category and innovation category winners then compete for the title of E-Commerce Awards champion of 2004 and a cheque for £30,000 at the national final on 6th October 2004.

This year, the E-Commerce Awards are part of the DTI’s Achieving best practice in your business activity. Achieving best practice in your business is a key theme within DTI's approach to business support, providing ideas and insights into how to improve performance across a business. Now, for the first time, all this knowledge and experience is being brought together in one place - www.dti.gov.uk/bestpractice.

The DTI/ InterForum E-Commerce Awards are the only Government backed technology awards. Organisations can be nominated by their employees, business partners, customers, suppliers or even friends and family. The application process takes less than an hour and applications can be saved and edited on-line up to the closing date of Friday 30th July.

Further information and entry forms can be found on the web site www.ecommerce-awards.co.uk or by contacting Jane Thompson in the E-Business team at Invest NI on 92 623132

(email jane.thompson@investni.com)