Entrepreneurs and aspiring businesspeople in the West Midlands are being given the chance to access crucial funding at a special Dragons’ Den-style event.

A total of 20 candidates will be shortlisted and invited to present their business idea – with half expected to be given thousands of pounds worth of vital funds – at an event at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Birmingham on December 7.

The event is part of wider plans from the Birmingham Post to help stimulate growth in the region and nearly 100 firms have already entered –with dozens more expected before the closing date on November 22.

The event has been organised by Trinity Mirror Midlands – the parent company of the Birmingham Post – to give access to the £5 million pot of Regional Growth Fund money the newspaper has to distribute in the region.

The identity of the five judges is being kept under wraps but Craig Cooksley, head of commercial at the Birmingham Post, said he was hopeful that the event would present a happy new year to some talented entrepreneurs.

He said: “Earlier rounds of funding concentrated on existing businesses, however for this particular project we are looking turn business ideas into reality with a grant and package of support. The next big business could be right on our doorstep but to find out sometimes you need to take a chance, that’s what we aim to do for the brightest business ideas.

“We know from previous applicants that access to funding is difficult even for existing businesses, to get funding for a business start up it is worse. We know that some of the world’s strongest businesses started during difficult economic times so if any budding entrepreneurs are holding back I’d say take a chance you never know what you can achieve unless you try.”

The entrepreneurs will be grilled on their business backgrounds and the plans for their businesses and innovations, in a similar fashion to the BBC show.

They will be expected to reveal how the money will show a return and potentially lead to employment in the future.

Unlike on Dragons’ Den the event will not result in equity stakes being taken in the business, but entrepreneurs will be given the chance to win funding and access to business support.

The event is part of wider plans to create hundreds of jobs through the Birmingham Post Growth Fund, an investment fund, financed by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, through their Regional Growth Fund initiative.

The fund, run in partnership with Bournville College, has already backed several firms and will eventually help small and medium-sized businesses to enable them to create a minimum of 250 new, long term jobs and assist businesses develop the skills they need to be able to grow successfully.

The opportunity to apply for the third round of the Birmingham Post Growth Fund closes this week, to receive and application form email: startups@bournville.ac.uk before 5:30pm on November 22.