The team behind an award-winning children's television series is one of five companies vying for a slice of $1 million in growth funding.

Pukeko Pictures, the creators of The WotWots, two fluffy space creatures popular with the under-fives, join technology company Konnect Net, natural health products maker Manuka Health, gourmet meat supplier NeatMeat and tyre-recycler Pacific Rubber as finalists in the University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

Now in its fourth year the Entrepreneurs' Challenge gives a finance boost to high-growth businesses with export ambitions.

It was established with $3 million of seed capital from expat businessman Charles Bidwill with the aim of lifting New Zealand's export growth and fostering links between the university and business community.


Bidwill made his name in the 80s running iconic New Zealand companies including Ceramco, Bendon, Baycorp and Steel & Tube alongside business high-flyer Alan Gibbs.

This year the challenge organisers worked hard to create an awareness of the competition among companies outside of Auckland.

Entrepreneurs' Challenge committee chairman Brian Hannan said it was particularly pleasing to have a finalist from a creative environment like the film industry in Wellington.

"Charles wants to see this as a New Zealand-oriented event. It's not intended to be Auckland-centric. It really is something to offer encouragement around New Zealand for these type of activities."

Hannan said the finalists were all strong and serious contenders and more than one winner was likely due to the depth of skill and enterprise.

Over the next month the finalists will be put through their paces in a due diligence process culminating in an awards announcement in late October.