Calling the business community: here’s your chance to help one young entrepreneur from Norfolk to win a national business competition as she competes for a year of mentoring from Deborah Meaden from Dragon’s Den.

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Emily Groves, founder of energy consultancy Indigo Swan, is representing the East of England in the finals of the Newspaper Society’s Local Business Accelerators competition.

Ms Groves will discover on June 28 at an awards ceremony in London whether she has beaten competition from 11 other regional finalists from around the country to win the national accolade and a year of mentoring from Ms Meaden.

But now is your chance to show your support for Norfolk entrepreneurship by voting for Ms Groves to win a separate “people’s choice” award at the ceremony - just click the link next to this story to go to the voting page. Voting closes at midnight on June 24.

Backed by the EDP and its sister Archant newspaper titles, the competition is a UK-wide project by the newspaper industry to support small businesses.

Ms Groves was one of two EDP winners - the other being Rebecca Lewis Smith of the Fountain Partnership - and both companies have received a three month free advertising campaign in the newspaper.

Based in Millenium Plain in the centre of Norwich, Indigo Swan offers impartial advice to businesses about how to manage and reduce their energy fuel bills.

Set up in 2010 after managing director Ms Groves spotted a gap in the market, it employs eight staff and has a £400,000 turnover. It is also a member of the EDP’s Future 50, which showcases up and coming businesses.

Deborah Meaden said: “These businesses have done incredibly well to get to the final stages of Local Business Accelerators and I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to each of them.

“It has been fascinating to see how local papers can provide lasting and practical help for young businesses, whether by creating new links for them within the business community or by helping them to communicate more effectively with existing and potential customers.”

Indigo Swan was selected by a judging panel, which included Helen Loveless, Mail on Sunday business editor; Stephen Welton, Business Growth Fund chief executive; Graham Goodkind, Frank PR founder; Al Young, St Luke’s creative director; and Lynne Anderson, NS communications and marketing director jointly selected the top LBA business in each of the 12 UK regions.

They scored the businesses on a series of criteria including the originality of the business idea, their ability to fend off competition, their finances and future prospects, their communication skills, their positive impact upon the local community, and the potential benefit to the businesses of free local newspaper advertising.

The overall winner of the compeition will receive a year’s mentoring from Deborah and an ad campaign devised by a top London ad agency.




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