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The Independent Online
Companies wishing to take part in the annual Independent on Sunday / Price Waterhouse search for Britain's fastest-growing companies have less than two weeks to sign up.

The survey - now in its fifth year - ranks companies by their annual compound sales growth over a five-year period starting in 1990. Since its introduction, the Independent 100 has become an established performance indicator for growth companies, with an increase in applications each year. The continued growth of this sector through the recession has led to rising acceptance of its importance in the creation of jobs and wealth.

In addition to the Independent 100, there is a separate award for the top 50 Middle Market companies, devised by Price Waterhouse, the firm of accountants and business advisers that compiles the rankings. Designed to mark the achievement of companies that keep growing although already substantial in size, it is open to companies that have sales of at least £5m in the first of the five years or turnover of at least £15m in the last of the five years.

If you think you have what it takes to be a future star, you might measure yourself against the typical high flier identified by Nigel Crockford, the Price Waterhouse partner responsible for growth companies, in a survey of every company in last year's Independent 100 and Middle Market 50 listings.

The key factors were: q A university education;

q Starting young;

q Focus on product quality, satisfying customers, team work and building, retaining and leading a management group;

q Appointing a non-executive director;

q Regular and accurate financial management information.

To obtain an application form, contact Julie Harwood at Price Waterhouse, Southwark Towers, 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SY. Tel 071-939 3000. Completed forms must be returned by Friday 24 February.