British independent label V2 is in the news, literally, thanks to a novel initiative celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The music company and its label partners have teamed with Rupert Murdoch's British publishing group the Times Newspapers for a competition to unearth a talented young music industry entrepreneur.

The competition is open to any individual in Europe who is either already running an independent record label or has a solid project plan to do so.

The winner will receive similar terms as those Co-operative has struck with all the labels in its network, valued to the tune of at least £35,000 ($68,900).

Co-operative Music is the pan-European label-licensing network, launched by V2 in late 2005. It represents such labels as Wichita, Bella Union and City Slang.

If the competition winner is plucked from Britain, their label will receive a U.K. and Ireland manufacturing, distribution and sales deal with V2, and an international licensing deal for Continental Europe with Co-operative Music.

"As far as I know, it's the first time this has been done. And for us it's a new and interesting way to source and interesting independent labels," Vincent Clery-Melin, Co-operative Music GM, tells Billboard.biz.

V2's Music Business Grant Competition launched March 18 in the Sunday Times broadsheet, and will formally run each Sunday until the end of May, after which time organizers will whittle down a short-list. The final stages of the process will likely take place by the end of September.

The judges will be combing participants' business plans for "entrepreneurial spirit and originality," says Clery-Melin. "It's a mixture of how much business sense they have, and how strong their model is."

Clery-Melin will be joined on the jury panel with a host of executives from U.K. independents, including V2 Music Group CEO Tony Harlow, Wichita Recordings managing director Dick Green and Bella Union MD Simon Raymonde.

Furthermore, U.K. indies' trade body AIM has offered a free membership to the successful participant.

Richard Branson's Virgin Group sold its stake in V2 Records to U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley last May for an undisclosed sum. The label, which Branson had founded in 1996, has a roster of artists including Stereophonics, Paul Weller and Little Man Tate.

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