Royal approval

HM The Queen at Buckingham Palace during the reception for the Queen's Awards 2012

Celebrating The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise 2017

By Carla Fox

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For more than 50 years, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise have recognised the global achievements of UK businesses.

Since they were instituted by Royal Warrant in 1966, the awards have become a prestigious way of acknowledging significant achievements in international trade, innovation, and sustainable development.

Announced annually on April 21, which is the Queen’s birthday, that is also the opening date for applications to the following year’s awards. To be considered the company must be based in the UK, including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, and file its Company Tax Return with HM Revenue and Customs.

The company can be a business or non-profit organisation but must have a minimum of two full-time UK employees (or the equivalent in part-time work). It also needs to show strong corporate social responsibility and be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products and services under its own management.

Award winners are invited to Buckingham Palace to receive the awards from the Queen, who awards each company after taking advice from the Prime Minister and an advisory committee drawn from government, industry and commerce, and the trade unions.

There are separate categories in the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise – Innovation, International Trade, Sustainable Development, and Promoting Opportunity, which recognises businesses that promote social mobility. Each of these carries additional entry criteria to the overarching rules mentioned previously of course. Organisations can apply to more than one category.

These are globally recognised awards, so the judging process will be rigorous. What are the benefits to an organisation in beginning what can be a lengthy and time-consuming process.

Award winners will have an edge over competition in the field and the new opportunities that go along with the global recognition. There is commercial value in the award, over and above the boost to staff morale.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are globally recognised and the judging is rigorous but brings prestige to the winning companies and organisations
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are globally recognised and the judging is rigorous but brings prestige to the winning companies and organisations

In addition, the organisation can fly the Queen’s Award flag at their principal premises, and use the emblem on stationery, advertising and goods. This stays in place for five years after the award is received.

One of last year’s winners was Rentokil, a household name in the UK and now operating in 66 countries around the world. It is the market leader in pest control in many countries throughout continental Europe, Asia, Pacific, South Africa, and the Middle East. In addition, the business in North America is growing at a pace and there have been expansions in Central and Latin America. Rentokil has also recently become the leading pest control provider in India.

In a worldwide market that is valued at around $16bn, it has put the UK on the global map – and gained Rentokil the Queen’s Award for International Trade.

Andy Ransom, Chief Executive of Rentokil Initial plc said, “We are extremely proud to receive The Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Being acknowledged in this way is a fantastic achievement and is testament to the hard work and commitment of our colleagues across the world.”

With such a degree of worldwide success, some might wonder why companies such as Rentokil would put themselves through the application process. For all organisations, the reasons are different, and even those who are unsuccessful in the process can learn much about their processes and be successful in a subsequent round of awards.

The process itself is a valuable experience. It can give organisations renewed targets and hone their focus on what they are doing well, and what could be improved. The range of organisations that enter the awards is startling, bringing our attention to UK companies who we may not have heard of previously.

EnergyNet is a good example of that. The organisation is responsible for investment meetings, investment forums, and dialogues between companies that focus on the power and industrial sectors across Africa. It looks at the impact that power generation can have on economic development and job creation across that continent.

Last year the organisation picked up its second award. In 2014, it was recognised for sales growth and was awarded in the International Trade category. The second award recognised its social responsibility by investing £200,000 of its own money over the space of three years into energy-related projects whose objectives are to aid the lives of Africans. Following its first Queen’s Award in 2014, Managing Director Simon Gosling told City A.M. that winning the award had “tweaked a lot of interest and people took us an awful lot more seriously.

“In terms of increasing our value proposition, the purpose of our business and people thinking we’re something more than just a conference company doing things for the sake of making money, this was a real recognition that they could buy into.”

Applications to this year’s awards are open now until midday on September 1. The process doesn’t end there, however. Short-listed organisations will be informed the following month and in November will need to provide verified figures.

This time next year, your organisation could be preparing to send representatives to Buckingham Palace, or might be using the experience of entering to look at how to improve processes and achieve greater success. There is only something to gain by applying.

  • Full details of the criteria for each of the categories is listed on the Queen’s Award for Enterprise section of the Government website. For more details of these and the application process, log on to