Twenty West Midland entrepreneurs are in the running to win up to £5 million in equity funding to boost their high-growth and technology businesses.

From a gadget that protects laptops from thieves, to an innovative educational board game - the diverse companies will battle it out for a share of the Connect Midlands Investment Challenge funding.

The competition is run by Connect Midlands - a not-for-profit network for investors, high growth and technology businesses in the region.

In its inaugural year, up to £1 million of equity funding was available to the region's businesses, but due to its success the pot was increased to £5 million for this year's event.

Each shortlisted business entered the challenge by completing online assessment tool, "The Gauntlet", developed by Doug Richard, formerly of BBC2 television show Dragon's Den.

Acting like a virtual investor, The Gauntlet seeks the information that investors need and ensures that the business is investment ready, before confirming backing.

Experts and industry professionals then reviewed each entry and put together a shortlist.

These businesses will now pitch to a panel of real investors, before being whittled down to a final 10 on September 19.

The awards evening will take place on October 10 at Kilworth House Hotel, Leicestershire, when the lucky winners will be revealed.

Isabell Majewsky, director of Connect Midlands said: "We were overwhelmed by the diversity of businesses developing in the Midlands and by the standard of applicants to this years challenge.

"It was a very tough decision to select only 20 shortlisted businesses, but now the judges have an even harder choice to select just 10 finalists."

The challenge is backed by Catapult Venture Managers, Midven, the Mercia Technology Seed Fund and Advantage Business Angels.

The shortlisted companies are: Aeristech, Northfield; Alphabet Runner, Great Barr; Aldridge Piling Equipment (Manufacturing) Company, Cannock;, Leamington Spa; ClikinGo - New Media Video Production, Ross-on-Wye; Dirads, Stoke; Expert Required, Stafford; Global Bio Tec, Coventry; Healus, Newcastle-under-Lyme; Helyx Secure Information Systems, Ledbury; Laplock Technology, Coventry; Magic Horseman, Stoke on Trent; Novolytics, Coventry; Opscape, Coventry; PPLParty, Coventry; Redweb Security, Tamworth; SweebleXT, Burton-on-Trent; TalentPool Jobsite, Solihull; The RFID, Willenhall; The Internet Games Database, Stourbridge.