The Ernst & Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 award was claimed by Stephen Catlin, chief executive of international insurer Catlin Group.
Catlin, who has grown the insurer into a £2.6bn turnover group, beat 42 other business leaders to claim the top prize at a ceremony in London.
“In government, we are working to create an environment that helps new businesses flourish and the entrepreneurs nominated for these awards are a shining example of the business success we want this country to be known for around the world.”
The one-time Secret Millionaire, and Business Matters columnist, Carl Hopkins’ Are You Ready venture won the StartUp Britain award, which recognises locally-based support projects targeting regional growth and enterprise, which have scope to grow nationally.
Are You Ready fosters a culture of enterprise in education, working with children aged four to 19, and includes training teachers to deliver enterprise through the curriculum. Judges were impressed by the fact the initiative is “scalable and easy to replicate in other countries”.
Steve Varley, E&Y UK and Ireland managing partner, added: “During these tough economic times, the crucial role of entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. This year’s winners and finalists are responsible for combined revenue of £7bn and achieved 20 per cent employment growth over the last year, despite the continuing economic challenges.
“It is their determination, innovation, entrepreneurship and extraordinary export success that need to be celebrated and emulated in order to create success and wider growth for the UK.”
Mr Catlin will go on to compete globally with more than 50 other country finalists at the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of The Year awards in Monte Carlo next year.
Bryan Bodek of Airline Services Holdings won the business products and services award; Jim Walker of Argent Energy (UK) Limited won the manufacturing and processing award, Kevin Hard of EvoEnergy won the cleantech and renewable award and David Suddens of R Griggs Group won the retail and wholesale award.
The consumer products and services award went to Steve Oliver and Walter Gleeson of Entertainment Magpie; Colin Robertson of Alexander Dennis won the outstanding achievement award; Michelle Clothier and Sam Conniff of Livity won the social enterprise award; Mark Pearson of Markco Media scooped the emerging entrepreneur award and the E-commerce and technology winner was Errol Damelin of Wonga.com.
The board of judges at the UK Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 awards was headed by Richard Harpin, the chief executive and founder of Homeserve. Harpin, was named Ernst & Young’s UK Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008.
He originally set up the Midlands-based company in Walsall with £100,000 investment from water company South Staffs Water.
Mr Harpin recently launched The Enterprise Trust, a charity to help provide budding entrepreneurs with advice and resources.
He was joined on the panel by judges including Sherry Coutu, an entrepreneur and angel investor who serves on the advisory board of Linkedin, Seedcamp and Zoopla; Andy Homer, chief executive of Towergate Partnership Co, and Neil Hutchinson, the founder and managing director of Forward Internet Group.