Awards for manufacturing and exporting excellence will be among five new categories to be presented at this year's Western Morning News Business Awards.
Entries are now coming in for the awards, which have a closing date of September 6, with the five new awards attracting particular interest.
Manufacturing is playing a key role in the UK's economic recovery with the 'Made in Britain' stamp playing particularly well in the luxury goods market, with Asia accounting for around two thirds of sales in this area.
After years of losing volume production to eastern Europe and China, many South West manufacturers are now winning back contracts based on the value added approach they can offer.
The WMN's Manufacturer of the Year award, sponsored by accountants Bishop Fleming, will celebrate the innovative businesses that are putting the region on the map for their production expertise.
Nigel Warren, head of Bishop Fleming's technology and manufacturing team, said: "The Westcountry is one of Britain's strongest hubs for technology innovators and manufacturers, and there are signs that this crucial sector is beginning to find ways of delivering its potential for growth – albeit slowly.
"Recovery for the Westcountry's economy will be fuelled by the ability of this region's technology manufacturers to achieve growth. That cannot happen without the investment in their innovations and growth, so the WMN's business awards provide a timely spotlight on Westcountry successes – and should give confidence to those potential investors."
Exporting excellence will also be recognised. This, too, has proved a key part of the region's recovery from recession with many ambitious Westcountry businesses achieved significant success both in traditional markets close to home and emerging markets further afield.
The Exporter of the Year category will seek to recognise the ambition and skill of those businesses who are putting the Westcountry on the international map by selling their goods and services on a wider scale.
Closer to home, the Community Contribution award will recognise the charities and social enterprises who have achieved business success but whose primary aims are non-profit making. The idea is to celebrate the achievements of organisations who build strong links to businesses and communities.
The last two years have seen the business awards recognise the best employers in the Westcountry but, this year, the region's best staff will also be celebrated with the Employee of the Year category.
And the Apprenticeship Award, sponsored by City College Plymouth, will be awarded to the company that shows a real commitment to training and development through apprenticeships, recognising the vital role that such training and development plays.
Sharron Robbie, head of corporate relations at City College Plymouth, said: "We are delighted to be supporting the award for Apprenticeship of the Year. City College Plymouth trains over 1,000 apprentices annually, with our Apprenticeship provision recently being graded as Outstanding by Ofsted. Apprenticeships offer an opportunity for individuals to earn whilst learning, and support businesses by enabling workforce development and growth."
The award ceremony will be held at the Holiday Inn, in Plymouth, on November 21.
This year will see a total of 15 awards handed out with a closing date of September 6. For a full list of award categories and to enter, log on to www.westernmorningnews.co. uk/businessawards.
The main sponsor for the awards is once more South West Water's Source for Business. Other sponsors include: Brittany Ferries; Business Think; Plymouth University; EDF E; Brewin Dolphin and First Great Western.