Growing companies have less than five days to put their hands up for a share of $1 million of funding to accelerate their development.

The University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge, with $3 million of cash from businessman Charles Bidwill, is aimed at boosting the business success of growth companies through the provision of funding on favourable terms, mentoring and a raised profile.

Andrew Clements, one of seven business people charged with picking companies to benefit from up to $1 million in funding, said the money could go towards anything from a year's worth of market development in Asia to creating a new product in a different area of business.

"It's the potential for a company to actually try something that they were otherwise restrained from trying or go somewhere that they otherwise wouldn't have gone. To maybe try and leap a bit more of a chasm than they otherwise would," said Clements.

He reiterated a point made by Prime Minister John Key at the launch of the challenge in August, that for New Zealand companies to survive they need to make the jump into overseas markets at a much earlier stage than those in countries where they can rely on a large domestic market to fuel initial growth.

"If it helps someone do that a little bit smarter, if it helps someone become a little bit more market-oriented, then I think that's the potential [of the challenge]."

The challenge is not for a start-up with just an idea, says Clements, but aimed at a company with some sort of business track record.

Clements is personally involved in picking winners on a daily basis as director of investment company Zeus Capital.

One of his first jobs was working for Bidwill at Ceramco in the 1980s.

Entries to the challenge close this Friday with a winner, or winners, announced in November.