Gauntlet run for business finance

WOULD-BE entrepreneurs in the eastern region are being invited to get off the starting blocks to vie for a share of a £2million investment fund.The East of England Development Agency launches its third Running the Gauntlet contest today.

WOULD-BE entrepreneurs in the eastern region are being invited to get off the starting blocks to vie for a share of a £2million investment fund.

The East of England Development Agency launches its third Running the Gauntlet contest today .

This year the competition has up to twice the funds available to share between the winners, and the investment panel deciding on who goes through will again be chaired by Doug Richard of Library House in Cambridge, a former 'dragon' from the hit BBC2 series Dragon's Den,.

In the last two years, nearly 800 businesses have used the Running the Gauntlet contest as a springboard for business development and investment. Many have gone on to attract private equity running into millions of pounds, including Camrivox, Compound Photonics and Short Fuze.


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This year, EEDA is partnering with four investors: CREATE, Low Carbon Accelerator, NW Brown Group and SEP.

This year's enhanced business education programme includes free access to The Gauntlet, a virtual investor devised by Library House and the London School of Economics, which normally costs £299 and is aimed at getting entrants' business plans in the best possible shape to attract investment.

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More than £250,000 worth of advice and guidance is available from some of the UK's leading commercial organisations, including Bailey Fisher, Grant Thornton, HSBC, Microsoft UK, Mudhut Communication, Taylor Vintners and Cambridge Marketing College.

A series of boot camps are scheduled for Cambridge, Norwich and Chelmsford.

Entrepreneurs can enter online at www.runningthegauntlet.com until midnight on September 2.

Those who register early can win a place, worth £1,000 each on Ignite, an intensive week-long summer school for entrepreneurs run by the Cambridge Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, to gain a place on Microsoft UK's small business management course.

A shortlist of 50 will be announced on September 12, and these will be invited to pitch to a panel of investors who will select 10 finalists to go forward for more detailed discussions.

Investment plans will be announced at EEDA's Destination Growth event on November 6.

Richard Ellis, chairman of EEDA, said: “The east of England is fortunate in having one of the country's highest concentrations of entrepreneurs. The diverse interests of our four investors who span a wide range of sectors from green energy and IT to healthcare and biotechnology should inspire widespread interest from innovators across the region.

“I look forward to seeing who comes forward and who will make the most of the opportunities Running the Gauntlet offers.”

Mr Richard added: “Being entrepreneurial involves being agile, acting quickly and being prepared to work harder than the competition.

“There is a 'readiness gap' among entrepreneurs at the moment, in other words there are not enough businesses ready for investment or for the scrutiny this entails.

“Running the Gauntlet is designed to address this gap through its high quality education programme and the involvement of investors eager to work with high-impact entrepreneurial talent. I commend it to all entrepreneurs with a burning ambition to succeed.”

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