Former Dragon Doug Richard launches The Pitch 2009

The Pitch 2009 will see small business owners across the UK pitching to experts for the chance to win a collection of business support prizes worth £50,000.

Among the high profile names backing the initiative is Doug Richard, serial entrepreneur and former panellist on the BBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den. Richard launched his School for Startups last year and the scheme has already helped more than 1,000 budding entrepreneurs through a series of "Start your own business" courses across the UK. As part of the initiative, Richard will provide one-on-one mentoring to the overall winner.

He says: "The Pitch is an exciting programme that highlights great entrepreneurial talent with a real prize at the end. I think it is just the kind of contest we need to help start-ups gain exposure and support."

Also sharing his expertise with contestants at the final will be Tim Campbell, the first person to win a job working for Sir Alan Sugar on TV programme The Apprentice.

Since leaving his job with Sir Alan, Campbell has set up The Bright Ideas Trust, a registered charity which helps young people aged 16-30 to set up and run successful businesses.

Then there’s entrepreneur and philanthropist Deidre Bounds. Bounds set up ethical travel business i-to-i.com in 1994 before selling it to First Choice Travel for £20m. She also took part in Channel 4’s Millionaires’ Mission which saw eight wealthy business leaders travelling to Uganda to use enterprise to help fight poverty.

Bounds comments: “New business is about dreams, drive and devotion on a bed of common sense. That’s why I’m thrilled to be a judge and can’t wait to meet the dreamers.”

For your chance to enter and get your hands on the prizes, visit The Pitch 2009.

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