START-UP businesses are being invited to take part in a competition which could see them win two years’ free rent.

Bywell Business Parks is offering two years’ rent-free 400 sq ft of office space at its Bearl Business Park, near Stocksfield, to the winner of the competition, along with mentoring services from other businesses in the park, worth £7,000.

Mentoring will include advice and assistance from lawyers, accountants, PR and branding experts, as well as a number of people who have successfully built their own businesses at Bywell Business Parks.

The competition was launched last week by Bywell Business Parks, part of Allendale Estates which is run by Wentworth and Vanessa Beaumont. Bearl is one of four sites in the Tyne Valley operated by Bywell Business Parks.

Wentworth Beaumont said the couple wanted the business parks to become thriving hubs for entrepreneurialism.

“We hope that by removing the financial burden of renting an office, while also providing an extraordinary array of mentoring from a diverse and brilliant group of business people, we can enable a new generation of entrepreneurs to flourish at Bywell,” he said. “It will be great for business; great for the community; and great for the North-East.”

The competition is open to any business less than three years old.

From the entries, a shortlist of finalists will be selected to go before a judging panel that will include Wentworth Beaumont, Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman, and Chris Down, chief executive of Openworks Engineering. The winner will be announced in early June.

Chris Down said: “Starting your own company is both one of the hardest and most fulfilling things anyone can do. Building it into a sustainable business requires extreme focus on the company’s core activities. Having a support network of like-minded entrepreneurs and other professionals as mentors increases the chances of success.”