Biotechnology, skater fashion, yoghurt and software companies are in the running to benefit from up to $1 million in growth funding.

Ten companies have made the cut to be finalists in the University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

Backed by a $3 million donation from expat businessman Charles Bidwill, the challenge aims to accelerate business success by providing mentoring, funding and a profile boost to growing companies.

University of Auckland Business School executive-in-residence and investment committee chairman Brian Hannan said the finalists came from a range of sectors and were at quite different stages of their growth.

"All of these companies have got a really good story and are quite different," said Hannan.

"They are all achieving a level in terms of being globally competitive in their particular spheres. It's a really good tranche and very much in line with what Charles was hoping that we would identify and be in a position to encourage and support."

Bidwill had indicated the investment committee could increase the risk profile of the winners, but Hannan said it still had to consider if it needed to be an evergreen fund.

"We're not looking at venture capital-type risks. The purpose of the fund is to give these companies a leg up and support them in doing good for New Zealand in terms of their enterprise, but also in taking New Zealand into the global markets."

Last year coffee company Allpress, smart water meter developer Outpost Central and hot water heating control company Senztek gained funding to fast-track overseas expansion.

The finalists will undertake a due diligence process before presenting to the investment committee next month.

The winner or winners will be announced in November.

THE FINALISTS
3i Innovation: On-road lighting using LED technology.
AWT New Zealand: Water management consultancy.
Biomatters: Biological research software.
Greentide: Bioagritech company manufacturing biological-based pesticides.
Huffer Direct: Fashion label focused on the skate and snowboard market.
Mesynthes: Regenerative tissue substitutes for reconstructive plastic surgery.
Optima Corporation: Optimisation and simulation software for the emergency services, airlines and health industries.
Piako Gourmet Yoghurt: Gourmet yoghurt producers.
Symansis: High-quality reagents used by cell biology researchers.
Unimarket: Customisable, online one-stop-shop for large, decentralised organisations buying products and services.