A YOUNG Oldbury entrepreneur has beaten off competition from 800 youngsters to make it through to the final of a prestigious award which boasts a £10k prize.

Nithin Thomas is one of eight people shortlisted for the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, which recognises youngsters who have turned an innovative idea into a successful business.

The 29-year-old’s firm SQR Systems, which has developed software to thwart hackers, is on the verge of securing two big contracts in the defence and security sector.

Nithin currently has one part-time staff member and works from his home, but is gearing up to take on two new staff and new premises.

He said: “Cyber crime is a huge issue these days - what with people hacking into things - we concentrate on protecting data which is critical for national security “It is a really exciting time for us with things set to really change.”

Nithlin, who went to school in Wales but moved to Oldbury two years ago, will be judged by a panel of eight business experts, including former Apprentice candidate Saira Khan and could bag a £10k prize.

He has already won a £1k Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award for his business which he set up in 2010 having developed the technology as part of his PhD in engineering at the University of Bristol.

Nithin realised there was a gap in the market for a technology that would solve security concerns and difficulties with delivering high quality video content through low bandwidth.

He said: “I will be ecstatic if I win the £10k prize as we’re currently growing the business and refining our technology so the money would be very useful.”

The award will be announced next Wednesday (November 14) at Altitude 360, Millbank Tower, London.