The 2017 Big Chip Awards for digital and technology have launched with BusinessCloud as the official media partner.

Winners from 2016 mixed with 2017 hopefuls at the launch event at the futuristic offices of headline sponsor UKFast on Tuesday.

The not-for-profit awards – run by independent trade association Manchester Digital – are now in their 19th year, making them the UK’s longest-running tech awards.

There are 22 gongs up for grabs in all areas of digital including search, UX, gaming and animation, while rising stars will be recognised in the student and apprentice categories.

The deadline for entries is Monday 13th March and the shortlist will be announced on Thursday 27th April.

“Looking back over 19 years, Big Chip has borne witness to a digital and tech industry in the North that is growing fast and delivering ever higher standards of work,” Shaun Fensom, chair of the Big Chip Steering Group, told BusinessCloud.

“The strength of the sector here is vital for our future both here in the North but also for the UK as a whole.”

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Run by and for the industry, they recognise the North’s digital and tech sector from the Scottish borders down to Derbyshire and are known for the integrity of their judging process.

This year has seen the introduction of three new categories: the Big Chip Transformation Award, Big Chip IoT Impact Award and the Big Chip Leadership Award.

As in previous years, entries will be judged by a number of the country’s digital and tech pioneers, led by design guru Malcolm Garrett.

Big Chip Awards 2016

The 2016 winners

Some of this year’s other confirmed judges include Alastair Cole of The Engine Group, the BBC’s Bill Thompson, Herb Kim from Tech North and Caroline Gorski, Head of IoT at Digital Catapult.

Lawrence Jones, CEO of headline sponsor UKFast, said: “It’s a pleasure once again to be supporting the long-standing Big Chip Awards and to play a part in commending some of the best digital work in the North.

“There’s no standing still for the North’s digital sector, so we’re looking forward to seeing the incredible work being done by those businesses and individuals that are currently helping to drive this exciting industry forward further.”

Fensom added: “The North has done us proud again over the past 12 months by producing some of the most creative, innovative and commercially successful digital work in the UK and beyond.

“Each year our judges are more impressed by the standard of entries, which keeps on rising.”

The Big Chip Awards will be held at Manchester’s Hilton Hotel on 15th June 2017. Entries can be submitted online at http://bigchipawards.com.