THERE is just a week left to enter the Gazette-backed Local Business Accelerators competition – and as an added boost, the prize package has increased.

The latest organisations to back the initiative, which aims to provide a unique and valuable boost to small and medium-size local businesses across the UK, include the CBI, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) and Freeagent, which have all bolstered the overall winner’s prize package.

Now, the overall winner will receive free membership of the CBI for a year, free business advice from the ICAEW valued at £2,000, and an iPad from Freeagent, which is also offering a year’s free access to its accountancy software to each of the national finalists, valued at £300 per finalist.

These prizes are in addition to the campaign’s main prize of mentoring from the LBA national ambassador Deborah Meaden, of BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den, and a free local newspaper advertising campaign designed by a top London agency. The Business Growth Fund has also contributed a £10,000 cash sum for the overall winner.

The LBA scheme, backed by 500 regional and national newspapers up and down the country, was launched last year and has gained the support of both the commercial sector and top politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron.

Gazette Newspapers is taking part for the second year with the aim of creating new opportunities for businesses in Basingstoke and north Hampshire.

There will be up to three local winners, who will each receive the benefit of having a mentor work alongside them for a minimum of three months and free advertising in Gazette Newspapers publica-tions.

To take part in the Gazette-backed Local Business Accelerators campaign, first visit From this website, you will find a simple application form which should only take a few minutes to complete.

All that is required are a few details telling us about your business, along with how much turnover your enterprise generates, and what the biggest success your business has enjoyed so far.

When submitting the online application, be sure to select Basingstoke Gazette under Newspaper Title.

This will ensure that your information is passed on by the Newspaper Society, which is spearheading the LBA campaign, to us at Gazette Newspapers.

We will then share this information with our LBA panel team.

At the end of November, a shortlist of local finalists will be selected. They will make a 10-minute Dragons’ Den-style pitch to the judging panel at a date to be confirmed, and the three local winners will be announced in February. In June, an overall local winner will be announced, with the business going forward to regional heats. The overall national winner will be revealed next October.

Don’t forget, the closing date for entries is Friday, November 16.