THE search is underway to find Britain’s best university student and graduate businesses.

Nominations for the Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards – in which entrants compete for a £50,000 investment and mentoring prize – will close on January 31. That gives potential entrants just over three weeks to complete their applications.

The awards, now in their second year, are part of Lloyds Banking Group’s commitment to start-ups and growth firms. The awards aims to support the estimated 55,000 student businesses across Britain that are striving to make their mark.

The competition is open to current students or those who have graduated within the past five years who have been running a business for at least one year and are over the age of 18.

To enter, go to enterpriseawards. Applications will be shortlisted and considered by a judging panel in one of eight finals across England, Scotland and Wales, during March. The grand final will be held in April at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

All entrants will be considered for two titles – Best Start Up, which will be awarded to a business in its early stages, and Best Enterprise which will be awarded to the business judged to show real potential to grow over the next five years.

All winners of the initial heats will get cash prizes of £1,000 for Best Start Up and £5,000 for Best Enterprise and will be automatically entered for the national final.

The overall winner of Best Start up will be awarded a cash prize of £10,000 and the winner of Best Enterprise will be awarded a cash prize of £50,000.

All 16 regional and national winners will receive a comprehensive two-year mentoring programme, involving senior executives from Lloyds Banking Group. This is designed to provide coaching and support on critical business issues such as planning and finance.