TWO Huntingdonshire companies are among the 50 shortlisted for the East of England Development Agency's (EEDA) "Running the gauntlet 2007" competition to win equity funding to develop products and ideas. iOTA Sphere Ltd, of Ramsey, and V-Scratch Ltd, of Abbots Ripton, have the chance to refine their financial and business presentation techniques with two of the competition's commercial partners, HSBC and Mudhut Communication. This will be crucial preparation for their pitch to investors and forms part of the education programme that lies at the heart of Running the gauntlet, EEDA says. iOTA has developed a SMS-style mobile phone browser for content download, while V-Scratch's new idea will create a media advertising channel capable of being used on any digital transmission platform. MP Barbara Follett, Minister for the East of England, said: "This combination of education and financial incentive is exactly what helps entrepreneurs get on the ladder to business success." Ten finalists will be announced on October 9. They will then be open to greater scrutiny from the investors ahead of EEDA's Destination Growth event on November 6, where investment plans will be revealed. Doug Richard, chairman of the investors' panel, said: "Small businesses driven by gutsy entrepreneurs lie at the heart of a successful economy.