Why you should enter the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise 2021

Queen's Award _Image courtsey of Costello Medical

Winning one of the prestigious annual Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is not only a chance for some positive publicity, but it can also boost sales and employee engagement.

For a bit of inspiration you can check this site for previous winners from the region. Some have won twice or three times. But it’s not just about the larger companies - smaller companies can also enter and often do well.  

Recent local winners include:

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise recognise and reward outstanding achievements in the fields of Innovation, International Trade, Sustainable Development and Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility). Many Cambridge businesses have benefited over the years from the acclaim and status an award brings.

The awards celebrate the success of exciting and innovative businesses which are leading the way with pioneering products or services, delivering impressive social mobility programmes or showing their commitment to excellent sustainable development practices.

Ninety per cent of the 2020 Queen’s Awards winners were SMEs and 73% of winners in the International Trade category directly attributed increased sales to winning a Queen’s Award*.

The Awards can bring substantial benefits to winners, including:

  •     increased staff morale

  •     boosts to turnover and international trade

  •     greater recognition

  •     excellent marketing opportunities.

Winners are also traditionally invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace.



Almost all UK businesses (including non profit) can apply, and the application process is free. All applications must be made online, and you may apply for more than one category.

To be eligible for a Queen’s Award, a company must:

  •     be based in the UK

  •     have at least two full-time UK employees or part time equivalents

  •     file its Company Tax Returns with HMRC

  •     be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products or services under its own management

  •     demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility.

Each award category has additional criteria - see here for more details.

Awards are free to enter.

Special circumstances

The organisers say: "We want to ensure that businesses can still apply for a Queen's Award, despite factors which could have prevented them from doing as well as they had originally predicted for 2020.

"We appreciate that businesses may have been affected in many shapes and forms by uncontrollable circumstances in recent months such as flooding and Covid-19.  Despite these situations, we want to encourage successful businesses to apply and can provide the necessary help and guidance.

"That is why for the 2021 round, we have not changed the eligibility criteria and have instead made some changes to the application system to enable businesses to manually input their financial years. This means that applicants could wind back a year if their last financial year has been affected by Covid-19, storms, or flooding. For example, if they are applying for International Trade and their overseas sales growth was affected in 2020, they can now wind back a year and provide their figures for 2017, 2018 and 2019, rather than up to 2020.

"Alternatively, they may prefer to submit figures over a shorter period of time. For example, for Innovation, they can select a two or five year period to demonstrate their commercial success. Similarly, with International Trade, they can opt to demonstrate overseas sales growth over a six or three year period. We assess applications on a case by case basis and will evaluate commercial success and challenges by uncontrollable, external factors. It is important for us to see the trends and patterns of each business' commercial success, to see how well they have performed before these challenging times."

How to apply

The 2021 application round is now open, and will close on 9 September 2020.

Almost all UK businesses can apply, and the online application process is free and straightforward. To find out more, contact the Queen’s Awards Office or visit the website here.

Contact information
Email: queensawards@beis.gov.uk
Tel: 020 7215 6880


*research of International Trade winners between 2012—2015 carried out by the University of Strathclyde

Image courtsey of Costello Medical

To read more information, click here.

Cambridge Network is a membership organisation based in the vibrant high technology cluster of Cambridge, UK. We bring people together - from business and academia - to meet each other and share ideas, encouraging collaboration and partnership for shared success.

Cambridge Network Limited