What are the Conservatives looking for in a winner?
Someone who has spotted a new opportunity with a product or service which meets a need that isn't being met and has an original idea that is really exciting. That's more important than the size of the business. It's the quality of the idea, the business plan and the potential that we're looking for.
The business can't be more than three years old, but it could be at any stage before that. We're looking for anything that isn't being done somewhere else. Last year we choose winners who had designed a new concept for high heeled shoes that was revolutionary; it was only a year old but was already exporting international.
Why should start-ups enter the competition?
Past winners have been given exposure to people at the conference, which included a lot of media and a lot of investors. One of the sponsors of the conference is the British Venture Capital Association and their representatives will be there to meet the winners.
The long term benefits come from the contacts people have made at the conference.
What do you think makes a successful business?
It's a combination of a well thought through business plan, a real passion for what you're going to do and a belief that it is going to work. All that, and a well researched idea that's meeting a need others aren't is vital.
What businesses does Britain need to see more of?
The interesting thing about the period since the recession is the role start ups are playing. There are more businesses trading than ever before. There are a lot of people who, because of the recession, have decided to go it alone with their business.
There are sectors in the economy that are going to be important for the country in the future, particularly tech, creative and digital, pharmaceuticals and engineering, these are all important for the economy.
But any business that can succeed in a difficult market and can create jobs is something we need. We want to see more business creating jobs and succeeding. That's what this competition is about. We're helping businesses get to the next level.
What else are the conservatives doing to help start-ups reach the next level?
One initiative for smaller businesses is the seed enterprise investment scheme. That's a great way to attract investment from an individual. It's often hard for start-ups to convince people with money to believe in them and this really helps them.
Regional growth funds are also there to help established and new businesses by given them grants and loans to support their business. In my constituency, the growth fund is giving out a lot of money to help businesses expand and create jobs.
To apply to join the Conservative Party Start-Up Hub and get the chance to present at the conference, click here.