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Demystifying The Queen's Awards for Enterprise

The Queen's Awards

Have you ever thought about applying for a Queen's Awards for Enterprise, but have been unsure of whether it is for you?

You may have even taken the time to sit down and start an application, but then realised that you did not know what category your business would best fit into.

Well, we want to ensure that our categories are easy to not only understand, but to apply for. We are keen to celebrate as many outstanding British businesses as possible to ensure that you are recognised for your achievements not only within the UK, but overseas too.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the UK's most prestigious business awards. They recognise and encourage the outstanding achievements of UK businesses in the fields of:​


​Innovation; ​

International Trade; ​

Sustainable Development; and, ​

Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility).   ​

The UK is full of exciting and innovative businesses  and the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is a great way of celebrating their success. ​

​Whether a small business with a great innovative product or service, or a larger company running an impressive social mobility programme, this award is a prestigious way to recognise your contribution to enterprise.​

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are open to applications from almost all businesses of all sizes throughout the UK in every sector. ​

Application Guidance- General

“What exactly are you looking for in an application?” – this is one the most popular questions that we hear when we pick up the phone at the Queen’s Awards Office.

Here are some of the top tips which we share with our applicants:

Firstly, register on the application system. This will allow you to then be able to download a PDF of the application form, which will allow you to plan your application and share the form with others.

Use plain English. Winning applications manage to avoid technical jargon. The application must be easy to read and understand to assessors, even if they are not necessarily experts in the sector.

Provide evidence. Please provide qualitative and quantitative evidence to support all your statements.

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to tell your story in your own words; we want to hear about your personal journey; why did you start the business and the key drivers for you in making your business successful.

Add collaborators to your application account. This will allow others to be able to help and contribute to your application, as well as ensuring that someone else will have access to the form in your absence.

Allow sufficient time. Do make sure that you plan your application properly, to allow enough time to complete it.


Application Guidance- Innovation

In Innovation category we want to hear why your innovation is unique and how it has benefited your business, customers and others .

It is important for us to know what issue your innovation has solved and what challenges you have overcame in developing or distributing it.

Has your innovation been adopted by others in your sector or perhaps in another sector?

Application Guidance- International Trade

Substantial growth in overseas earnings with a minimum of £100,000 in overseas sales in the first year of your entry and demonstrate steep year on year growth.

If you are applying for International Trade award, tell us about your export strategy, explain why penetration of a particular market is an achievement.

  • Are you the first/leading/fastest growing UK exporter in this market?
  • Why is your performance better than that of competitors?
  • What challenges have affected your trade and how have you overcome them

Application Guidance- Sustainable Development

HRH The Prince of Wales relaunched this category last July and his personal video message sets out what we are looking for.

We have moved away from awarding businesses who simply demonstrate the three ‘r’s of sustainability: reduce, reuse and recycle. We urge businesses to look at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to see how they can embed sustainability at the heart of their business.

In Sustainable Development application you may want to tell us about any specific successes, such as developing an innovative new product or process delivering environmental benefits, or seeing sustainable development outcomes embedded in your organisation, supply chain or community.

It is important to demonstrate that your company and/or senior decision makers are leading the way in your sector or community and how they have overcome important challenges that are specific to your sector.

Whilst the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are national and global goals - and we do not expect businesses to align with each one - I thought it would be useful to give some examples of Award-winning businesses to demonstrate what we are looking for.

Application Guidance - Social Mobility

The Promoting Opportunity through social mobility category is currently being refocused and will be open for applications in mid-July. While organisations who do not have social mobility as a business wide objective but have a programme that supports it can apply, we have also made it easier for those who have social mobility as a core aim to apply

This category recognises businesses and organisations that are providing high quality social mobility initiatives and programmes that specifically reach out and support people from disadvantaged backgrounds, in order to inspire and guide the best talent into their organisation and beyond.

Applications should tell us the story of what motivated the organisation to have social mobility as a core aim or why they decided to develop and provide it’s programme. Assessors and judges want see :

  • What was the situation before the inception of this programme and how has the organisation/ programme helped socially disadvantaged individuals?
  • How has the work benefited your organisation, community, staff and workforce?
  • How has your organisation benefited the participants and improved the employability of the people engaged in your programme?

The new application form has been revised to allow organisations the space to provide evidence of these areas .

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise Eligibility

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is a self-nominating process and is open to almost all businesses across the UK, of all sizes and in every sector.

It is free to enter and applying for QA is a straightforward online process.  We are open for applications and the closing date is 9 September.

There are a few eligibility criteria applicable to all;

  • be based in the UK (including the Channel Islands and the IoM);
  • file its Company Tax Returns with HM Revenue and Customs;
  • be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products or services and is under its own management;
  • have at least 2 full-time UK employees or part-time equivalents; and
  • demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility (assesses the impact of the business on the environment and society; and strong relations with employees and customers)


Your organisation can be business or non-profit.

Each Award category has its own additional eligibility criteria. These can be found, in full, on the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise pages on

We do also have a Twitter and LinkedIn page, on which we provide regular updates about the Awards. As well as a number of stories and case studies which can be found on this blog.

We are a small, friendly team of five who are based in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We are very happy to talk to applicants and can be contacted via email ( or on our helpline 020 7215 6880


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