SMALL businesses with a bright idea have the opportunity to win funding to test their new product or process from the East of England Development Agency. Up to \u00A320,000 is available to each small businesses or entrepreneur to help to carry out in-depth market research through EEDA's Proof of Market funding. Trevor Conway, business finance manager at EEDA, said the funding would help to keep innovative businesses one step ahead as the country moves out of recession. He said: "To help companies in this region - the UK's 'ideas region' - EEDA's Proof of Market funding offers businesses an invaluable insight on how to target and crack lucrative markets. "It is much more than just a financial boost. Previous recipients have found that it's given them the stamp of approval they needed to go on and secure further investment." Since EEDA introduced Proof of Market (formerly Proof of Concept) funding back in 2006, 230 projects have shared a total of over \u00A34.7 million. The money has gone to fund a wide range of products, from waterproof socks and superconducting magnets to luminous walking sticks for the visually impaired. David Burch, East of England policy manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Our region has a rich heritage in developing cutting-edge, exciting, new technologies - everything from Dyson's ground-breaking vacuum to the very first pregnancy test. For businesses to remain globally competitive, it's important that they continue to meet changing consumers' needs by adapting and bringing new products to market. EEDA's ongoing support for local innovative businesses is essential, if they are to flourish in the East of England." INFORMATION: Businesses with a bright idea for a new product or process can visit www.eeda.org.uk\/finance to find out more about Proof of Market funding, download a short and simple application form and find out more about EEDA's financial support for innovative businesses.