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12 winning North East businesses go forward to the national UK’s Best Small Business 2018 finals

Middlesbrough company GRN Sportswear, the creators of performance sportswear made from waste products - including plastic bottles and abandoned fishing nets – is one of the businesses that has beaten off stiff competition to be crowned one of the North East’s best small businesses. It was named as the North East’s Ethical Green Business of the Year – one of 12 award category winners at the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards held yesterday 29 January at Sage Gateshead.

Other winners on the day included DNA testing company Genomics Ltd, of Lanchester, County Durham, which took the North East’s FSB Business and Product Innovation Award for its new brand ChXout that provides DNA analysis services for plants and animals. North Shield’s Seaweed & Co. won the Business Exporter of the Year Award, recognised for its rapid expansion as distributors in Europe, USA, Australia, Israel and South Korea. The Young Entrepreneur Award went to Shantelle Million who began making her digital system for the social care sector, MiCare Plan, a reality whilst she was still a student at Newcastle University. 

For a full list of all the winners, please refer to the notes at the end of this release.

Pete Lillie, GRN Sportswear, winner of FSB Ethical Green Business, said: "We are delighted to be crowned the North East winners of the FSB Ethical Green Business Award.  We at GRN want to make a positive difference to both the environment and the economy with a goal of creating a truly profitable and circular economic model. Winning this award has helped us showcase how we are achieving our goals."

Ted Salmon, FSB North East representative, said: “Congratulations to all this year’s North East FSB Business Award winners. They are reflective of the vibrancy, innovation and tenacity that makes up our region’s small business community. It’s been thrilling to see so many of the region’s businesses enthusiastically take part in our awards and the sheer scale and diversity of those who entered is a testimony to the vitality of the small business community in the North East. The best of luck to all our winners for the UK national award finals in May.”

Commenting on the event, headline sponsor Alan Laing, Managing Director, UK and Ireland, Sage, said: 

“Sage is proud to be the headline sponsor of the North East FSB Small Business Awards. Sage started as a small business in Newcastle back in 1981 and we champion the needs of these entrepreneurs daily. Small businesses are the engine room of this country’s economy and it’s critical we set them up for success, which is our aim at Sage, through the software we develop and the campaigning we do. These awards are a great way of showcasing the talent we have up here and celebrating the benefits these businesses bring to our GDP.”

The FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards celebrate the best small businesses from the length and breadth of the country, offering national recognition for those who have made the biggest impression over the last 12 months. Twelve area awards finals take place between January and March, with the national UK finals taking place at a VIP attended awards ceremony on 3 May in London.

The North East winners were announced by Master of Ceremonies and BBC broadcaster Dave Sharpe at a ceremony at Sage Gateshead on the afternoon of 29 January.