Five Belfast companies will be flying the flag for the Northern Ireland business community at a top awards ceremony later this month.
Lightstep Technologies, Core Systems (NI), Grafton Recruitment, Abacus Professional Recruitment and ShredBank won their respective categories in the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce Awards and will now go through to the British Chambers of Commerce's Chamber Awards 2010.
As well as being in the running to win the national title in their category, the five firms have the chance to scoop the award for Outstanding Business Achievement - with a top prize of £25,000 and runner-up prizes of £15,000 and £10,000.
Oonagh O'Reilly, business development director, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said that the standard of entry in this year's awards is very high.
"All of the Northern Ireland winners have demonstrated a commitment to innovation throughout all areas of their business, including product development, service provision and staff development," she said.
"Improving business practice is especially critical if local companies are to maintain competitive advantage in ever more challenging economic circumstances."
Lightstep Technologies, which develops evacuation technologies, won the Northern Ireland award for innovation through technology, sponsored by Dell; Software firm Core Systems (NI) picked up the award for excellence in people development, sponsored by CIPD and Grafton Recruitment won business of the year, an award sponsored by Westfield Health.
Another recruitment firm, Abacus Professional Recruitment, received the award for excellence in customer service, sponsored by AXA PPP healthcare, while ShredBank won the entrepreneur of the year award, sponsored by Staples.