The BEFTA’s 2018, an exciting new version of Northern Ireland’s premier business awards, will take place at the Belfast Waterfront on Thursday, 22nd November, 2018.

The BEFTA’s, the Business Eye First Trust Bank Business Awards, take on the highly successful 12-year mantle of the former UTV Business Eye Awards….with a new title, a new lead sponsor and a new line-up for 2018.

First Trust Bank, a key supporter of the Northern Ireland business community, has partnered Business Eye on the annual Business Eye First Trust Bank Small Business Awards for the past three years and will now sponsor the November awards, which cover all businesses – large, small and medium-sized – across the region.

The new-look BEFTA’s will be launched for 2018 on Thursday, 6th September, at Bar Level 2 in the Belfast Waterfront Hall at 12 noon.

The closing date for entries to the BEFTA’s 2018 will be Friday, 19th October, with the judging panel due to meet in early November.

And local companies and individuals will be able to enter no less than 18 different categories covering most aspects of the local economy and business life…….

Company of the Year

Northern Ireland’s overall company of the year in the opinion of the judging panel. Companies can be of any size/scale, number of employees, and must be able to exhibit exceptional performance, especially but not exclusively during the 12 month period to 31 October 2018.

Sponsored by: First Trust Bank

Young Business Personality of the Year

The category is open to senior managers and leaders in businesses and organisations across the private, public and voluntary sectors who are aged 35 or younger at 31 October 2018, and whose leadership and achievement can be clearly demonstrated.

Sponsored by: Ulster University

Tourism & Hospitality Company of the Year

The company or organisation making the most valuable contribution to the continued development of tourism & hospitality here in Northern Ireland. Possible entrants might include hotels/hotel groups, other forms of accommodation, tourism development organisations, restaurants, travel facilities, etc.

Sponsored by: Visit Belfast

Exporter of the Year

The Northern Ireland-based company exhibiting the most impressive track record and recent growth in export sales of goods or services outside of Northern Ireland. Export markets to include ROI and GB, but the judging panel will give special consideration to organisations exporting worldwide.

Sponsored by: Business Eye

Employer of the Year

This category sets out to recognise those local organisations exhibiting best practice in terms of people management. The judging panel will look for clear evidence of class-leading initiatives designed to make the organisation a better and more caring employer.

Sponsored by: Clear Channel

Medium/Mid-Sized Business of the Year

A new category to these awards, this category will recognise a leading player in the 50-250 employee sector of the Northern Ireland economy, a key sector which includes a number of our leading private sector companies. As with Company of the Year, entrants must demonstrate exceptional performance across the board.

Sponsored by: QUB Leadership Institute & Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s

Fast Growth Business of the Year

A private sector organisation able to show clear rapid growth in terms of profit, turnover and/or employee numbers during the 12 month period to 31st October 2018. This category is open to private sector businesses of any size and operating in any sector.

Sponsored by: Fleet Financial/Charles Hurst Group

Research & Development Award

The Research & Development (Innovation) project which, in the opinion of the judges, is the best example of how companies can harness research, development and innovation to further their business aims and objectives.

Sponsored by: Momentum Group

Agri Food Award

This category sets out to recognise notable achievement in the wider agri food sector and is open to companies and producers of all sizes as well as to individual products or innovations from those companies.

Sponsored by: Musgrave

Family Business Of The Year

Northern Ireland’s economy is built on family business success and this key category will recognise the family-owned business, of any size of scale, which can demostrate exceptional achievement during the year to 31st October 2018.

Sponsored by: Harbinson Mulholland

Technology Company of the Year

A new category for 2018, aimed at recognising impressive performance by one of Northern Ireland’s leading businesses operating in the technology sector, to include hardware, software, telecommunications, technology support and services.

Sponsored by: U105

Waste Reduction Project of the Year

The most impressive environmental initiative or project instituted by a NI-based company or organisation over the recent period, and an initiative or project which can show as clear impact on the wider environment.

Sponsored by: ISL Waste Management

Community (CSR) Award

Corporate social responsibility plays an important role for NI companies and this specialist category sets out to recognise an organisation from the private, public or voluntary sectors making a clear and impactful contribution to its local community as a whole.

Sponsored by: Community Foundation Northern Ireland

Executive Support Professional of the Year

Another new category for 2018, this award will honour one of the ‘unsung heroes’ of the business world here, Northern Ireland’s leading Executive Support Professional, a key member of staff in any organisation providing exemplary support services to management within the organisation.

Sponsored by: Honeycomb

Manufacturer of the Year

A very important category, this one is open to all manufacturing organisations, of any size and scale, operating in Northern Ireland. The judging panel will look for evidence of innovation, attention to detail, state of the art engineering and product market success.

Sponsored by: Nimbus

Professional Services Firm of the Year

This category sets out to honour Northern Ireland’s leading accountancy, legal or other professional services firm working with and providing key advice to clients in the local business community.

Sponsored by: Davy

Innovative Business of the Year

Innovation, across every sector, is a key driver of business success. In this category, our judges will look for clear evidence of innovation in action, along with evidence of how innovation has helped to contribute to business success.

Sponsored by: Business Eye

Business Personality of the Year

The keynote award at the 2018 BEFTA’s and one which will honour Northern Ireland’s outstanding business personality over the past 12 months, an individual whose leadership achievements have contributed to business success and to the wider local economy.

Sponsored by: First Trust Bank