Businesses vying for a year’s mentoring support from Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden are to have the chance to pitch their ideas locally in front of a special panel of judges.

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The shortlisted finalists

1. Anglia Business cleaning

Founder Emma Bussey is hoping that commercial cleaning services will be as easy as ‘ABC’ for her business. Formed in 2008, the Norwich-based business has been built up by word of mouth, but she said that winning the LBA competition would help take the firm which employs between 11 and 20 staff to the next stage.

2. Big Skies Food Company

Mark Ford and Zoe Skelton are hoping their Diss-based venture could prove a tasty business proposition. Their gourmet ‘Snorkersnacker’ sausage roll has just won a national pork industry gold award and the company is built on the idea of using the best ingredients from under the ‘big skies’ of East Anglia.

“We feel that the success we have gathered through social media could be magnified to a huge degree with local newspaper advertising and mentoring,” they said.

3. Comms Supply

Comms Supply is a specialists business which aims to reduce the cost of telecoms for firms and provide improved customer service. The business, which is the brainchild of EDP Future 50 member Karl Alderton, was launched in January and employs six staff with a monthly turnover rising from £15,000 to £60,000.

4. Electrifying cycles

David Wood from Cromer-based Electrifying Cycles has a vision to turn his business into the leading electric bike company in the UK. His achievements have already caught the eye in the industry as he was this year named as one of the 30 up-and-coming movers and shakers in the cycle trade.

5. Job Hop

Formed by Julie Bishop, the aim of JobHop is to use the power of social media to help jobseekers connect with potential employers

“There are many reasons I started my business - the main one was I was looking for a skilled worker in my last business, and normal methods didn’t work, so I started playing with social media to find them,” she said.

6. Olive branch services

Based in Fakenham and founded by Juliet Allen, the aim of Olive Branch Services is to offer remote project office and PA support to smaller businesses. Already she has worked with clients involved in the Sheringham offshore wind farm project.

7. osbornenash

Started by Carole Osborne and Lee Nash in April 2011, osbornenash is a marketing and design agency which has already caught the eye of EDP Future 50 judges employing six people which has grown using “instinct and varying levels of donated time from local business people,” says Carole Osborne.

“We’re now at the stage where we know with dedicated mentoring partnered with increased awareness of osbornenash, we could take the business to the next level,” she says.

8. Showerpowerbooster

Norwich-based chartered civil engineer Alan Wright has come up with an idea for a new low energy pump to solve low pressure problems in taps and showers.

“The product is totally new and needs to be brought to the attention of consumers,” he said. “We are currently selling a small number of pumps, and there has been a very positive response.”

Local and regional newspapers from across the UK, including the EDP and its sister Archant Norfolk titles, have drawn up their shortlists under the Local Business Accelerators (LBA) campaign aimed at delivering a boost to promising young businesses.

And that will see eight local entrepreneurs compete for a chance to win the overall LBA prize.

The competition saw 40 entrepreneurs apply to take part and the selected finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges – Kevin Horne, chief executive of NWES, Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber, and Siobhan Eke, director of enterprise and innovation at City College Norwich during a special event on January 16 at the college’s Start-Up Lounge.

The LBA initiative, being staged for the second time, aims to highlight how local newspapers can assist businesses in achieving their growth objectives. Organised by the Newspaper Society, the industry body for the local and regional media, and sponsored by Business In You, a government initiative to encourage more people to start a business, it offers businesses between one and five years old the chance to win a free advertising campaign in their local newspaper plus mentoring support from local business experts.

A host of leading figures from business and politics, including prime minister David Cameron, business and enterprise minister Michael Fallon, Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King and CBI director general John Cridland, have given their support to the campaign.

Last year Norwich-based Indigo Swan, an EDP Future 50 business run by Emily Groves, reached the final of the national contest, which was won by Yorkshire-based Ilkley Brewery.

In Norfolk the Chamber is offering a year’s free mentoring to the winning local business; NWES has also offered mentoring support, while Archant Norfolk, publishers of the EDP, is offering free advertising support.

The most promising businesses will go forward to a national round of the competition to win a year’s mentoring from Deborah Meaden and a local advertising campaign devised by a top London creative ad agency.

The national winner is also in line to receive a prize package including a £10,000 cash sum from the Business Growth Fund, free business advice from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales to the value of £2,000, free business broadband and wi-fi access for a year from BT, a year’s free membership of the CBI and an iPad from Freeagent which is also offering a year’s free access to its accountancy software to each of the national finalists, valued at £300 per finalist.

Kevin Horne said: “This region is home to some of the most creative companies in the country and Local Business Accelerators helps to raise their profile on a national stage.”

Deborah Meaden said: “With last year’s LBA having demonstrated the unique power of local and regional press to provide a meaningful boost to promising young businesses, I am delighted to be supporting the initiative once again.”

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