50 firms chosen to compete for funding

FIFTY entrepreneurs were congratulated by the Minister for the East of England last night after winning through to the next round of a regional investment competition.

FIFTY entrepreneurs were congratulated by the Minister for the East of England last night after winning through to the next round of a regional investment competition.

Barbara Follett MP applauded the 50, among them six Suffolk firms and eight from Essex, who were shortlisted in the East of England Development Agency's Running the Gauntlet contest.

Each has a chance of a share of up to £2million in equity funding from a group of investors - CREATE, Low Carbon Accelerator, NW Brown and SEP.

The contest, which also includes an education programme, attracted more than 300 entrants this year, which were whittled down by a panel of judges.

Those shortlisted now have the chance to refine their financial and business presentation techniques with two of the competition's commercial parners, HSBC and Mudhut Communication.

This will be crucial preparation for their pitch to investors later this month and forms part of the ongoing education programme.

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Mrs Follett said: “This combination of education and financial incentive is exactly what helps entrepreneurs get on the ladder to business success.

“This is good for them, good for the region and good for the country as a whole. It also reinforces the East of England's reputation as one of the UK's leading innovation centres.

“I applaud those who have made the Running the Gauntlet shortlist and wish them every success in the future.”

Ten finalists will be announced on October 9. They will then to be open to greater scrutiny from investors ahead of EEDA's Destination Growth event on November 6 where investment plans will be revealed.

Those shortlisted from Suffolk are: IT firm Coracle Online Ltd in Sudbury, creative/new media business Market Talk Television, also based in Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds-based creative/new media firm On Demand Technology Ltd, Ipswich telecommunications company See-Comms, Ipswich consumer firm Snapz Crisps, and Bury St Edmunds-based Torpedo Golf, also a consumer business.

In Essex, IT firm CBA Ltd, of Chelmsford, business services company Co-Matrix Ltd, of Maldon, Chelmsford IT business Decisionality Ltd, consumer business Hiresavers.com, of Stansted, IT firm Just Applications Ltd of Southend-on-Sea, Chelmsford-based telecommunications firm RPF Communications, industrials sector company Radiantglow Cosmetics Ltd, of Basildon, and Colchester IT firm UltraSoc Technologies Ltd, made it through to the final 50.

EEDA chairman Richard Ellis described the competition as “a key component” in EEDA's efforts to drive economic growth in the region.

“To have received over 300 entries is a very positive statement about the health of the region's entrepreneurial sector and builds on the competition's success over the last two years,” he said.

Chairman of the investors' panel Doug Richard said: “Small businesses driven by gutsy entrepreneurs lie at the heart of a successful economy. I want to see more of them. The 50 entrepreneurs shortlisted last night are to be congratulated, but they must keep focused on the job in hand. Let's see who makes it to the next stage.”