BUSINESS consultant Carlo Tortora-Brayda has been named as Oxfordshire's entrepreneur of the year.

The 28-year-old won first prize in the Oxfordshire final of the Shell LiveWire Young Business Start Up Awards.

His business, Advanced Alchemy, specialises in providing telemarketing business research to the information technology industry across Europe and Africa.

He beat 150 other young entrepreneurs from Oxfordshire who have recently started up their own businesses and will represent the county at the South Eastern final next month. He said: "I am delighted to have won this award. It is a great boost to my business and I'm looking forward to competing in the regional heat in April."

His company started with a 140 sq ft unit at the Thames Business Advice Centre business centre at Grove, near Wantage, last September, and has already expanded to 1,000 sq ft employing 16 people.

In second place in the Oxfordshire final was Tracy Hoddinott, a foot specialist, operating in three clinics in Oxford, Lechlade and Swindon.

Third place went to Ali Bastin, of Abelian Systems, specialising in IT support to small businesses around Oxford. He exercises his green credentials by cycling to firms.

Shell LiveWire co-ordinator Roger Cowdrey, of Thames Business Advice Centre, said: "All of the three finalists in what was our closest competition ever, have produced businesses that will undoubtedly succeed."

"However Carlo's company exhibits exceptional potential. His enthusiasm and ability have shown him to be a true LiveWire."

The judging panel for the contest, which is sponsored locally by NatWest and the Vale of the White Horse District Council, was council chief executive Terry Stock, Alan Williams of NatWest and Tim Rooke, of Vanguard Pubs and Restaurants.

Story date: Monday 13 March

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.