Challenge is on

AS TV viewers would have learned through BBC2's Dragon's Den programme, convincing investors to put their money behind your business idea is not an easy task.

AS TV viewers would have learned through BBC2's Dragon's Den programme, convincing investors to put their money behind your business idea is not an easy task.

But Suffolk entrepreneurs are today being invited to enter a regional competition which could help them do just that by landing them a share of £1million in investment cash.

Running the Gauntlet, a competition being run by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), is in its second year and the organisers say Suffolk residents who have a great idea for a new business could be on to a winner.

Last year three new companies were awarded a share of the £1million investment fund from CREATE, a leading investor in East of England businesses.

This year CREATE's chief executive and co-founder Boyd Mulvey and Dragon's Den's own Doug Richard will chair the panel of investors who will decide which businesses get a share of the investment money.

Mr Mulvey, who lives in Woodbridge, said: “One of the biggest hurdles for the early stage business is finding enough money to build the management team, take it to the next stage and develop the technology and so on. Finding that money can be very difficult.

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“All three businesses that we backed last year were basically one, two or three individuals and were operating out of their garage or their bedrooms.

“It was a success last year. I'm hopeful it will be a success this year. Real investment happens, people did benefit.”

Running the Gauntlet involves entrants completing a “virtual pitch” of their idea through The Gauntlet, a web-based tool developed by Library House and the London School of Economics to help businesses test their readiness to lure investors.

The 50 best entries will make it through to a shortlist and will be given feedback on their ideas by the panel of investors and the winners will be announced by EEDA in November.

The competition is touted as a rare opportunity to get expert advice from investors which could prove the difference between success and failure.

The deadline for entries is September 10. To enter or find out more go to www.runningthegauntlet.com.