After receiving hundreds of entries, BusinessZone.co.uk, in association with digital service provider Yell, has selected 80 of the UK's most original small businesses to compete for business support worth £50,000.
All winners will now pitch their businesses to judges and a live audience at The Pitch Live, a two-day event in Liverpool on 18 and 19 October. Tickets to the event are £10 and proceeds from the ticket sales will go towards a cash prize for one winner selected by the audience.
Five businesses will also be chosen to compete for the £50,000 prize at The Pitch 2012 Grand Final at London's Ministry of Sound nightclub in November. Four regional winners will be selected to pitch for the grand prize. The fifth business will be chosen from a pool of 16 additional regional winners awarded wildcard status that will compete for the most public votes.
"The judging process was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how small businesses are positioning themselves in a diverse and competitive marketplace," says Louise Morgan, head of intelligence and strategic insight at Yell Group, who judged the Welsh entries. "It was inspiring to see the great variety of entries that demonstrated innovation and the need for their product or service."
A record number of entrepreneurs from a range of sectors entered this year. From the hundreds of businesses taking part, 78% are based in England, 11% in Scotland, 6% in Northern Ireland and 5% in Wales.
Among the finalists from Northern Ireland is Adam Murphy, founder of Shnuggle, a business with a modern take on the Moses basket for babies. Alexander Epstein, a former contestant on BBC TV's The Apprentice, is a finalist from England who runs Concoction, a start-up which allows customers to create their own blended shampoo. Pitching for Wales will be Alba McDonnell founder of Rio: A Taste of Brazil cooking sauces and Scotland will be represented by Donnie Maclean founder of Eat Balanced, which provides nutritionally balanced pizzas.
For a full list of Pitch 80 winners and for more information, click here.