With just a few days to go until application deadline on Friday small and medium organisations across the UK are being urged to enter this year's DTI/InterForum E-Commerce Awards in association with BT, for the chance to be hailed e-Champion of 2005 and win a cash prize of £50,000.
Already, hundreds of companies across the UK have started their entries, but time is running out.
With 12 regions across the UK and six categories, UK businesses have 72 regional opportunities to be put forward for a chance to win the national £50,000 cash prize.
The regional & national DTI/InterForum E-Commerce Awards are open to any UK organisation with fewer than 250 employees and recognise and reward small and medium sized enterprises for innovation in the application of information and communication technologies to improve their business performance.
Entries and nominations can be made freely via the dedicated website www. ecommerceawards.co.uk
Set up by the DTI and Inter-Forum, and sponsored nationally by BT, the E-Commerce Awards are the only Government backed technology awards, are sponsored regionally by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.
The awards have already made their mark in the small business sector, with a total of more than 9,000 companies having entered since the awards inception in 1999, and more than £2.9 million raised in support of the development of the programme in this time.
Phil Flaxton, chief executive of InterForum said: "Ever since the awards were founded seven years ago, they have been enhanced and modified to reflect the changing abilities and needs of UK businesses through the introduction of new categories, new services and new for 2005, the National ICT Innovator Awards.
"They are a great example of how Government and industry can work together to promote better understanding and wider uptake of emerging technologies - and to help provide UK SMEs with both a real sense of achievement, as well as tangible rewards for their efforts.
"With the continued support of the DTI the awards go from strength to strength."
The awards are run on a regional and national level and recognise areas in which organisations can demonstrate business transformation: Best Sales & Marketing online, Best Customer Care online, Best Integrated Business, Best use of Broadband, Best use of Teleworking and Best use of Mobile & Wireless Technology.
Dr Richard Hutchins, corporate director of sustainable and rural development at Advantage West Midlands said: "We are delighted to be the regional sponsor of these prestigious awards.
"There are increasing numbers of local companies investing in e-commerce and with broadband at over 99 per cent coverage across the region, I hope to see businesses from all corners of the West Midlands submitting entries this year."
Frank Mills, BT regional director, West Midlands, added: "The awards foster exactly the spirit of innovation and excellence embodied by our customers.
"Like the DTI, BT recognises the value of IT and communications technologies to Britain's small business sector, and I'm really pleased to see how those businesses that are embracing these technologies in the West Midlands area are now thriving."
Each region will appoint a regional category winner during twelve heats across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
These winners will go on to the national category awards, and from there on to the award for the National e-Champion, who will receive a cash prize of £50,000, presented by Alun Michael, Minister of State for Industry and the regions responsible for supporting successful enterprise at the national final and gala dinner to be held in London on October 6.
Further information, entry forms and confirmation of all dates, times and judging guidelines can be found on the web site www. ecommerceawards.co.uk.
The entry deadline is 5pm, Friday July 29.