These carefully selected business competitions and awards offer funding and great publicity to support young founders under 35. 

If you’re planning to turn your business dreams into reality and you’re in need of a great source to grow your idea, then check out our pick of organisations that provide cash prizes, mentoring and press exposure to young entrepreneurs.

These competitions and awards, which range from Shell LiveWIRE awards that offer monthly prizes of £5,000 to the Mayor’s Entrepreneur yearly competition offering £20,000 funding, are a great opportunity to secure finance to grow your venture.

Here is our list of business competitions and awards:

Tycoon Enterprise Competition

This free national enterprise competition, founded by Peter Jones CBE in 2012, encourages young people to get into business at an earlier age.

Tycoon Enterprise Competition supports upcoming young founders, aged 6-18, with a start-up loan up to £2,000 to manage a business while at school or college. Winners are announced during a ceremony held at Buckingham Palace, hosted by HRH The Duke of York.

Frequency: Yearly
Apply: You can register for the competition via here.

Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Award

The global award, open to young entrepreneurs aged 18-35, aims to celebrate and support top young innovators tackling the planet’s biggest environmental and social challenges.

Eight winners are chosen to receive financial support, entry into Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership (CISL) accelerator programme, and one-to-one mentoring support for 12 months.

The overall winner receives the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize of €50,000.

Frequency: Yearly
Apply: Deadline for this year’s competition has passed but you can stay up to date via here.

Baldwins KickStart Young Entrepreneur Awards

Baldwins KickStart is a national award program, which finds and develops the next generation of business leaders by helping them take the first step into the business world.

The competition gives financial support, mentoring and business advice to 18 to 25-year-olds looking to start up a business or has an existing business trading for less than a year.

Three finalists will get to pitch their business idea to a LIVE audience and the chosen winner will receive a £10,000 grant and £10,000 worth of mentoring and accountancy advice. The two runners-up will receive £5,000 of mentoring and accountancy advice.

Frequency: Yearly
Apply: You can contact the team via this web form to find out more about applications.

NACUE Varsity Pitch Competition

A business pitching competition exhibiting and celebrating the most innovative startups founded by UK students and graduate entrepreneurs.

The winner is chosen by a panel of industry experts and they receive £10,000 equity free cash, a national title, and marketing opportunities.

Frequency: Yearly
Apply: You can contact the team via email to find out more information. 

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur

This is open to students and recent graduates of London universities with an innovative idea that could help tackle the issues facing the capital.

The next Mayor’s Entrepreneur competition has now expanded to include three winning ideas receiving £20,000 each plus support and advice from City Hall. Entries can be submitted under these categories – Environment, Tech, and Creative Industries.

Frequency: Yearly
Apply: Register to be notified of when the application opens via this form

Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award

The Smarter Future Programme award supports young entrepreneurs with smart and innovative ideas that meet the energy and resource needs of a fast-growing population.

Every month, a £5,000 start-up grant is awarded to a 16 to 30 year old founder with an idea for tackling issues affecting sustainable living in the UK.

Winners also receive access to exclusive Shell events and workshops opportunities and the opportunity to be considered for the annual £25,000 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Frequency: Monthly
Apply: The Smarter Future Award application can be submitted via here.

Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards

This is a business pitching competition aimed at financially boosting student and graduate business ventures in their early stages from their UK partner universities.

Winners receive cash prizes, mentoring and start-up support. Since its launch in 2011, the competition has awarded more than £340,000 to startups and small businesses.

Frequency: Yearly
Apply: Applications can only be made through your university entrepreneurship/enterprise department.

Contact us if your organisation runs business competitions and awards for young business owners.