With backgrounds ranging from childcare to digital games development, a total of 17 contenders have been selected for this year's EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Awards director Jon Hooper said like all successful entrepreneurs, the finalists had demonstrated innovation, determination and entrepreneurial spirit.

"Because of this, they make a significant contribution to New Zealand's economy and to the community by creating jobs, driving productivity and inspiring others," he said.

The finalists will appear before an independent judging panel on August 18 where they will each compete for the top slot in one of five categories -- products, services, technology and emerging industries, young and master.

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The category winners will be announced on August 21 and will again face the judges in October, when an overall winner will be chosen who will go on to represent New Zealand at the EY's World Entrepreneur of the Year contest in Monaco next June.

Last year's winner, International Volunteer HQ founder and chief executive Daniel Radcliffe, was described by the judges as being "almost a prototype" of what the country's next generation of entrepreneurs should be like.

Radcliffe also took out the Young Entrepreneur category and was only the second contender to do so and then go on to win the overall award in its 16 years.

The finalists

• Andrew Barnes (Perpetual Guardian)
• Benjamin Dellaca (CerebralFix)
• Daniel Gudsell (Abodo Wood)
• Craig Jones (Corbel Construction)
• Craig Hickson (Progressive Meats)
• Chris Heaslip (Pushpay)
• Eliot Crowther (Pushpay)
• Hamish Kennedy (Compac)
• Paul Lloyd (Apollo Projects)
• Chris Pescott (Perceptive Research)
• Katie Phillipps (Provincial Childcare Holdings)
• John-Daniel Trask (Mindscape)
• David Trubridge (David Trubridge Design)
• Carmen Vicelich (Data Insight)
• John Wikstrom (Magic Memories)
• Wayne Wright (BestStart)
• Grace Xue (Lighthouse at-home Childcare).