Retail guru George Davies to judge Babtac Innovation competition

George Davies, founder of retailer Next, has been confirmed as the first judge for the 2014 Innovation Grant, organised by Babtac.

Davies brings a wealth of experience to the panel, having launched Next as well as sub-brands George at Asda and Per Una at Marks & Spencer.

The national contest, which Babtac is running in association with Professional Beauty and the Olympia Beauty show, is a search for innovative industry business ideas and offers an £8,000 prize to the winner.

The entry deadline for the competition has now passed. The semi-finals will take place at Olympia Beauty in September with the final to be held at the Professional Beauty show at Excel, London in February 2014.

Davies said: “I am really excited to be involved in the Babtac competition, which involves innovation, entrepreneurs and pioneers. For me life is about continual learning and meeting people with great ideas.”

Babtac and Cibtac chair Carolyne Cross said: “Babtac approached George because of his experience in taking products to market, his prestige as a celebrity and his experience within this sector, specifically having launched Per Una Beauty in 2004. George is a prime example of a successful businessman who has lots of advice to share to those wanting to break into the industry.”

The shortlist of eight to 10 semi-finalists will be announced later this month. Each finalist will then perform a five-minute live presentation on stage at the Olympia show.

These will be recorded and uploaded to www.babtac.com to be put to the public vote.

The final four or five finalists will be decided via a combination of public vote and selection by a panel of industry experts.

The finalists will then present a 10-minute pitch live at Professional Beauty 2014 to the judging panel in a format similar to BBC’s Dragon’s Den.

Cross added: “This competition has provided a platform for those eager to develop in our industry and throughout this process they will be given direction, advice and guidance to help the eventual winner deliver a solid business plan and strategy.”