THE Big Chip Awards for North West companies excelling in the use of IT and digital technology, are back in a landmark year that celebrates a decade of digital performance and the 60th anniversary of the very first computer, designed and built in the North West.

In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the awards will be bigger and better with new categories more accurately reflecting the changing digital landscape, including for the first time, a ‘green’ award for technology designed to help protect the environment.

Awards organiser, Manchester Digital, is inviting companies from all sectors across the North West to submit their entries for the 2008 awards. They are particularly interested in encouraging entrants from Cheshire.

The call for entries is to digital sector companies and all businesses, creative agencies and organisations which have undertaken digital initiatives in the past year – everything from a company website to digital marketing.

The awards will hold particular significance this year, recognising the growth of the IT industry in the North West ever since Manchester produced the world’s first stored program computer or ‘baby’ as it was known, 60 years ago.

Reflecting the growing importance of sustainability and environment, the new Big Green Chip award will recognise outstanding use of digital technology that has directly or indirectly helped improve or preserve the environment, or that has achieved its goals in a sustainable way.

The awards also boast sub-regional categories for Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cheshire & Warrington.

The new Best Application of Technology award recognises that, since the pioneering work 60 years ago to build the world’s first computer, the North West has always led in the innovative application of computer technology. The new award offers a chance for companies with a particular strength in digital technology to win a Big Chip.

Entries are submitted online at The first two entries are free. Subsequent entries cost £75. The closing date for the competition is March 3, 2008.

The Big Chip Awards winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony on Thursday May 22, at new Century Hall in Manchester.