Cumbria has had its fair share of winners of the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise over the years.
The roll of honour includes Bells of Lazonby, Second Nature UK, the Cumberland Pencil Company, PAV Data Systems, UCB Films (now Innovia Films) and Iggesund Paperboard.
The most recent successes were in 2013 when Totalpost, of Alston, and Triveritas, of How Mill, near Brampton, were selected in the ‘international trade’ category.
Triveritas provides consultancy and clinical trials to develop veterinary vaccines and medicines. It won a Queen’s Award after overseas sales jumped by 219% in three years.
Totalpost manufactures mailroom equipment and consumables, and saw export growth of 82% in three years, selling to 38 countries. Chairman David Hymers has no doubt that winning the accolade helped his business.
He said: “The benefits were fantastic and I would recommend to anybody that they have a go.
“We got a 33% increase in turnover in the year following the Queen’s Award. It stood us in very good stead and we were well recognised by trade bodies, associations and major wholesalers.
“Another benefit was to the cohesiveness of the team. The win was all about team work – it’s not an individual that gets the Queen’s Award, it’s the business. It produced great enthusiasm and a spirit and a will to succeed.”
Totalpost has used the Queen’s Award logo extensively on advertising material. Every incoming phone call is greeted by a message saying: “Welcome to Totalpost, winners of the Queen’s Award for International Trade in 2013.”
David had previously been awarded the MBE for services to international trade and Totalpost was selected by UKTI – now the Department for International Trade – as one of its ‘Export Champions’ for the North West.
Despite that pedigree, winning a Queen’s Award involved perseverance.
David said: “It took us three attempts over a four-year period before we won. We refined our approach by talking to the Queen’s Award office, and asking, ‘We didn’t get it this year, what should we do differently next year?’.”
About the awards
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are for outstanding achievement by UK businesses in the categories of innovation, international trade, sustainable development, and promoting opportunity through social mobility.
They are free to enter.
Winners are invited to a Royal reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by The Queen, and are presented the award at their premises by one of The Queen’s representatives, a lord lieutenant.
They are able to fly The Queen’s Award flag and use the emblem on marketing materials, and are given a grant of appointment and a commemorative crystal bowl. The awards are valid for five years.
To apply for a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, your business must:
- Be based in the UK
- File its company tax returns with HM Revenue and Customs
- Be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products or services and is under its own management
- Have at least two full-time UK employees or part-time equivalents
- Demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility
Each of the award categories has additional entry criteria.
To apply for the International Trade award, you must:
- Have made a minimum of £100,000 in overseas sales in the first year of your entry and show year-on-year growth
- Prove that your organisation has achieved outstanding growth in overseas earnings relative to your business size and sector
- Prove steep year-on-year growth (without dips) in overseas sales over three years or substantial year-on-year growth over six years
To apply for the Innovation award, you must:
- Have an innovation that hasn’t been sold before
- Have had your innovation available on the market for at least two years
- Have recovered all the investments made in your innovation or show that the innovation will recover its full costs in future
- Show outstanding commercial success as a result of innovation over two years, or continuous commercial success over five years
To apply for the Sustainable Development award you must either:
- Show how your outstanding sustainable development practices have helped to improve your commercial performance over two years
- Or show how your continuous sustainable development practices have helped to improve your commercial performance over five years
To apply for the Promoting Opportunity award, you must:
- Have had a social mobility programme running for more than two years
- Prove that the programme benefits your organisation financially or otherwise (for example, it has improved your reputation or led to savings in the business)
Entries close at midday on September 1. Apply here.
If you need help, contact the Queen’s Awards helpline on 020 7215 6880.
In the meantime, Linda Stephens, a former Queen’s Award Secretary, offers these seven tips to would-be entrants:
- Read the guidance notes. They have lots of relevant advice that will save you time and effort.
- Take a moment to understand the rules around criteria and eligibility. For example, Innovation and Sustainable Development entries need a minimum of two full years of commercial figures that must be related to the product/service that is the subject of the entry.
- Don’t be shy, remember this is a competition. The form should contain all the key points you want assessors to know, so always make the most of the word count to showcase the company’s achievements
- Back up statements with figures and hard facts.
- Press ‘SAVE’ at regular intervals. You don’t have to complete the form in one sitting – you can come back to it later.
- Entries are online only. For the narrative parts, compose your answers in Word and then cut and paste into the online form. Remember to spell check and be mindful of the word limits on the questions.
- Don’t wait until the last minute.