Just a week after its launch, a $1 million fund offering finance for growing companies has attracted global interest.

The University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge offers businesses the chance to win up to $1 million of finance and mentoring from business leaders.

Funding for the competition came from the coffers of Charles Bidwill, the UK-based businessman who was associated with Ceramco and Baycorp in the 1980s and 1990s. Applications have been open since July 24 and have already attracted more than 1000 visits to the challenge's website.

Of those, around 10 per cent are going on to register to receive the application form.

Geoff Whitcher, director of the centre for entrepreneurial learning, said he was heartened by the list of names registering for applications.

"It is open to people from all the industries and it is encouraging to see a wide range," said Whitcher

Sectors including services, food and beverages, web-based businesses, marketing, viticulture and yachting are represented among the application registrations.

Visitors to the website have been from as far afield as Argentina, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Denmark and Finland.

Interest had also been shown in Australia, the United States and Britain.

Whitcher said the visitors could either be New Zealanders based overseas or organisations interested in running similar competitions to stimulate entrepreneurial activity.

The business school has already had approaches from a regional initiative based in the Hawkes Bay planning an equivalent fund.

"We're not keeping anything proprietary about [the challenge structure] so we would give them some advice about how we've constructed ours," said Whitcher.

Companies have until August 21 to apply for funding from the Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

Whitcher said the business school's experience with its university-wide business ideas competition, Spark, was that 90 to 95 per cent of the entries arrived on the last day.

"In fact, about 90 per cent in the last two hours," Whitcher said.

Enter online at: www.entrepreneurschallenge.co.nz.