O2 today announces Leicester, Preston, Ipswich and Tonbridge as the small business hotspots in the UK. The list has been compiled to mark the launch of the 2008 O2 X Awards, which recognises the most creative and successful UK small businesses with a £10,000 top prize.

A major finding from the research, carried out with O2’s small business customers revealed that smaller towns are producing more successful small businesses per head than major cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. The ten O2 small business hot spots in the UK are:

  • Tonbridge
  • Peterborough
  • Chelmsford
  • Ipswich
  • Oxford
  • Gloucester
  • Chester
  • Preston
  • Leicester
  • Newcastle Upon Tyne

Simon Devonshire, Head of SME Marketing at O2, comments, “We have seen that some of the UK’s smaller cities are providing the perfect conditions for small businesses to prosper. Throughout the previous five years of the O2 X Awards we have been astounded by the creativity and business success of the finalists from across the UK.”

The 2008 O2 X Awards opens for entries across the UK today, looking for something extra special in the new generation of small businesses who are making an impact in an increasingly competitive market-place. The O2 X Awards are open for entry via http://www.o2blueroom.co.uk/O2XAwards with entrants being able to self nominate or be recommended by others for entry

For the first time, there will be four individual categories to enter and one overall winner that will be crowned O2 X Entrepreneur of the Year and scoop the £10,000 prize to help take their business to the next level. Each award category will focus on some of the most creative and exciting growth sectors in the small business market.

O2 X Award for Fashion – supported by Grazia

Recognising innovation and excellence in the small business world of the fashion industry, the Fashion X Award honours companies with brilliant ‘why-didn’t-I-think-of-that’ ideas – those set to become the ‘next big thing’.

O2 X Award for Technology & Innovation – supported by Shortlist

Whether it’s a product or a service the Technology & Innovation X Award will throw the spotlight on companies that demonstrate real creative and technological innovation to change the way we do things.

O2 X Award for Food & Drink – supported by Observer Food Monthly

Food and drink is now one of the most exciting sectors for entrepreneurs and SMEs and the Observer Food Monthly judges are looking for original and visionary businesses that bring something new to a busy and competitive marketplace.

O2 X Award for Music – supported by Music Week

The way we interpret, use and listen to music is changing every day. The Music Week judges will be looking for a business with vision and strong leadership that demonstrates an understanding of new, different and better ways of how we incorporate music in our lives.

Eligible businesses with 1-50 employees can enter any of the four categories in the following regions:

  • South West & Wales
  • North East
  • North West
  • London
  • East
  • South East
  • Central
  • Scotland

Regional winners will then be invited to attend the national finals for the O2 X Awards at The O2 in October 2008.

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on:
press@virginmediao2.co.uk 01753 565656
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