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£7.35m tabled for midlands winners in Connect Midlands Investment Challenge

Nine Midlands companies were last week (October 10) announced as winners in the Connect Midlands 5 Million Investment Challenge. The East Midlands winners were Nottingham-based CellAura Technologies and Pacemaker UK, SAKS Electronics from Derby, SynchroPulse Ltd from Lincoln and Daventry-based Green Energy Options and the West Midlands winners were Coventry-based Opscape and PPL Party, RedWeb Security from Tamworth and Aldridge Piling Equipment from Cannock.

The Challenge, sponsored by BT Business, offers up to 5 million in equity funding for high-growth and technology businesses. It is backed by Catapult Venture Managers Ltd, East Midlands Early Growth Fund (managed by E-Synergy), Midven Ltd, the Mercia Technology Seed Fund and supported by the East Midlands Development Agency (emda), GINEM, Advantage West Midlands and Advantage Business Angels.

* CellAura Technologies, which provides innovative screening products for the drug discovery industry, is seeking just over 500,000.

* Pacemaker UK, which has developed a new material for pre-school toys, is seeking 1million.

* SAKS Electronics, which has worked with some of the best known names in the industry to design the ultimate MP-3 player for visually impaired users - the VI-Player, is seeking 350,000.

* SynchroPulse, which designs and develops high efficiency electronic motor and controller technology, is seeking circa. 1million.

* Green Energy Options, which makes energy visible in homes and businesses helping customers reduce their carbon emissions, is seeking 1.5million.

* Opscape, which provides a visual overview of Key Performance Indicators, replacing spreadsheets, reports and dashboards to ease the identification of exceptional and sub-optimal performance, is seeking circa. 1million.

* PPL Party, the social networking website for clubbers, is seeking 250,000.

* RedWeb, which is the world's first intelligent forensic trace alarm system, is seeking 1.5million.

* Aldridge Piling Equipment, which specialises in piling equipment and plastic piling with a comprehensive range of impact hammers and vibrators, is seeking 250,000.

All nine companies will now enter into formal negotiations with the backers and, where appropriate, complete the due diligence process.

Mick Mcloughlin, BT's regional director for the East Midlands said: 'BT Business recognise how important it is to support growing business to achieve their full potential, and is therefore delighted to be partnering Connect Midlands in such a worthwhile initiative.'

The winners were announced at a special awards ceremony by director of Connect Midlands, Isabell Majewsky, who commented: 'I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to announce the winners of The Challenge. It is particularly significant for me as I am leaving Connect Midlands at the end of the week and I will greatly miss working with such exciting, high-growth businesses as these at such crucial times in their history.'

Each company entered the Challenge by completing the online assessment tool, 'The Gauntlet', developed by Doug Richard, formerly of Dragon's Den. The Gauntlet acts like a virtual investor, seeking the crucial information that investors need and ensuring the business is investment ready.

Rob Carroll, managing director of Catapult, said: 'It is very exciting to once again be involved in the Connect Midlands 5 million Investment Challenge. I am very impressed with the quality of this year's applications and Catapult is looking forward to making investments into a number of the companies that have entered this year.'

More information about the Connect Midlands 5 Million Investment Challenge can be found at

Terms and conditions apply - Catapult Venture Managers Ltd and E-Synergy (fund manager to the East Midlands Early Growth Fund), WM Enterprise Ltd (fund manager to the Mercia Technology Seed Fund) and Midven Limited are authorised and regu

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