A business competition offering up to $1 million in low-interest finance is challenging companies in the provinces to pitch for a share of the funding.

Now in its fourth year, the University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge has provided financial and advisory support for 10 companies, but only one has been based outside Auckland.

The competition was launched last night by high-flying Kiwi Andrew Lark, the chief marketing officer at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia - parent company of ASB Bank.

University of Auckland Business School dean Greg Whittred said he was keen to see some of the $1 million up for grabs go to high-growth entrepreneurial companies from places outside the main urban areas.


"We are determined this year to attract the right kinds of companies from the regions who are, let's face it, the literal edge of entrepreneurship in this country."

Christchurch-based dog food producer K9 Natural is the only non-Auckland company to win the Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

Chief executive Calvin Smith said the company's flagship product, which mimics the diet of the North American grey wolf, is well known in its home town but had yet to really crack the Auckland market. The competition boosted K9 Natural's Auckland profile and the funding enabled the company to capitalise by adding a salesperson for the region.

High-growth New Zealand companies have until 5pm on July 30 to register an interest in this year's Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

* Open to companies seeking funding for growth or expansion.
* Businesses with a financial track record and a minimum turnover of $1 million will be preferred.
* Funding will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, with up to $1 million available on favourable terms.
* Entries close 5pm, July 30.
* Winners announced in October.