HSBC Bank has launched its fifth annual search for the nation's best start-up companies and the entrepreneurs who run them.

The HSBC Start-Up Stars Awards 2005 aims to promote and encourage fledgling entrepreneurs and is open to all businesses less than three years old.

Ten finalists will share cash and prizes worth £65,000 including £20,000 for the winner and £5,000 for the runner up.

Each finalist will also win consultancy services and software worth £4,000 from Croner Consulting and Intuit.

The closing date for entries is Friday, April 29. Judging will take place in September to select the 10 finalists.

Entry forms for the awards are available from HSBC branches, online at www.ukbusiness.