Dragons’ Den star joins our quest to boost Barking and Dagenham business

The Post is teaming up with businesswoman and Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden to search for Barking and Dagenham’s most promising businesses in a competition for start-ups.

More than 500 local newspapers across the country have pledged �15 million worth of free advertising space for winners of the Local Business Accelerators, with prizes including mentoring from the borough’s most experienced business leaders.

Deborah Meaden, from the hit BBC show were entrepreneurs pitch their ideas for financial backing and support, will also choose one business from the hundreds of regional winners to work with as a consultant for a year.

Prime Minister David Cameron and the Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, have pledged their support to the campaign co-ordinated by the Newspaper Society.

The initiative is also backed by the private sector’s Business in You campaign. Barking and Dagenham’s judging panel will consist of business leaders from the borough.

Barking and Dagenham Post acting editor Michael Adkins said: “All communities need thriving local businesses, and in this economic climate it’s crucial that we identify and support young Barking and Dagenham Communities.

“I hope we will help drive the local economy forward with this initiative and I’m very proud to be involved.

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“By joining forces to launch this excellent initiative for the second year running, local newspapers are demonstrating their commitment and providing exactly the sort of practical, hands-on support that will help local businesses succeed and grow.”

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Our judging panel will award mentoring and free advertising space to three businesses.

One will be put forward for the chance to win Ms Meaden’s expertise throughout 2013 and a local advertising campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency.

She said: “With last year’s LBA having demonstrated the unique power of local and regional press to provide a meaningful boost to promising young businesses, I am delighted to be supporting the initiative once again.

“The campaign provided tangible examples of the real contribution that local newspapers can provide to young businesses across many different sectors, accelerating their development.

“Enterprise and entrepreneurism in the local community is more important than ever before and I look forward to finding another young business to mentor and drive forward.”

Last year’s overall LBA winner, Ilkley Brewery in Yorkshire, which is currently receiving mentoring support from the “dragon”, saw its orders in Leeds double as a result of the free ad campaign in its local paper and the business expanded to take on two new employees since taking part.

The judges are looking for a business with a great idea or product, that is between one and five years old, active in the borough’s community and full of potential.

n For more information or to enter the competition visit www.accelerateme.co.uk, by Friday November 16.