BUSINESSES across Gwent are gearing up for the South Wales Argus Business Awards ceremony, which is taking place in the heart of Newport on Thursday evening.

The event, which is being held at the University of South Wales' Newport Campus, will include a panel discussion featuring business people and business leaders, along with the main event - the awarding of prizes in each of the 16 categories.

The awards, which are being held in association with the University of South Wales, are in their sixth year.

This year's event is being hosted by radio presenter Angela Jay and will also include a drinks reception and plenty of opportunity for networking.

The panel, led by South Wales Argus editor Gavin Thompson, will discuss creating the right environment for business success.

All the panellists at the South Wales Argus Business Awards

Anthony Hunt, leader of Torfaen County Borough Council. Torfaen was recently named top in a study by Oxford Business College analysts for new businesses, with 590 new businesses starting in the year, which the council put down to encouraging innovation and enterprise and its Torfaen Business Direct one-stop shop advice service. The borough is focusing support on the foundational economy, wrapping financial support around entrepreneurs, developing local networks, and identifying suitable premises.

Peter Lewis, managing director of Industrial Automation and Control in Newport. The company has a clearly stated goal “to maintain the long term employment for our workforce”. IAC has been a regular business awards winner over the years and Peter will share a little of what goes into the secret sauce recipe for success.

Richie Turner, community manager of Startup Stiwdio, the business Incubator at University of South Wales, who works closely with our entrepreneurs and startups. He also lectures at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama MA Arts Management, and is an arts, innovation, equality and diversity consultant currently working for BECTU Cymru and the four UK Arts Council's. Richie is a Non-Executive Board Member of Creative Wales.

Laura Waters and Kelli Apsland, both directors of Solar Budies. Kelli and Laura first had their idea for the child-friendly sunscreen applicator back in 2011 while discussing issues they were both encountering, along with other fellow parents, about how they children could apply sunscreen safely and effectively while not in their care.

They both found out that their children’s school had a ‘No Touch Policies’ in place when it comes to applying sunscreen, which meant the teachers were unable to assist the children in this task. They realised very quickly that this was something they wanted to change, and they wanted to make a difference for their children and others.

They appeared on Dragons’ Den and won investment from Deborah Meaden and the business has grown quickly since.