A record number of entries have been confirmed for the 2017 Dorset Business Awards.

The Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has revealed that the number of entries for this year’s awards has increased by 23 per cent compared to figures from last year.

A new online award entry platform was created this year to make the application process simpler and easy to follow, encouraging more people to enter, alongside the introduction of five new categories to this year’s line-up.

Entries for the annual awards closed on September 3.

Now, judges have until the end of the month to decide which local businesses or individuals are to be announced as the winners of the 2017 awards.

In association with the Daily Echo and Dorset Echo, and backed by Wave 105, the prestigious business awards programme is searching for winners across the following12 categories:

• Business Leader of the Year Award, sponsored by DCCI and Pure Networking

• Brand of the Year Award, sponsored by RT Brand Communications

• Creative and Digital Impact Award, sponsored by Liz Lean PR and Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

• UK Health Insurance Investing in Dorset Award

• Lester Aldridge and Santander Company of the Year Award

• PKF Francis Clark Family Business Award

• Outstanding Contribution to Apprenticeships Award, sponsored by Sunseeker International

• Outstanding Customer Service Award, sponsored by Beales Gourmet at The Italian Villa and Luxurycare

• Retail and Leisure Experience Award, sponsored by the Dolphin Shopping Centre

• Team of the Year Award, sponsored by TeamJobs

• Young Chamber Award, sponsored by Blue Sky Financial Planning

• UK Exporter of the Year Award, sponsored by REID Steel

A team of three judges will analyse entries against each award criteria. Judges have until Saturday, September 30 to shortlist three finalists for each award.

A 'Meet the Finalists' drinks reception will be held on Monday, November 6 and will bring together finalists and award sponsors to celebrate business achievement in Dorset.

The winners of each award will be announced at the Gala Dinner Awards ceremony at the Bournemouth International Centre on Thursday, November 23.

Stuart Dixon, head of marketing and communications and organiser of the awards from DCCI, said: ‘‘Year on year we receive a diverse range of entries and once again businesses from all over Dorset have shown that they have the skills and accomplishments worth celebrating.

‘‘The quality of entries has been extremely high, reflecting our dynamic and thriving business community."

Contact DCCI on 01202 714800 for more information.