Local businesses and budding entrepreneurs from across the East of England can secure up to £20,000 to help test the commercial potential of new products or processes.

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) opened a new and final  round of its Proof of Market funding in July and local businesses have until 5pm on Friday 10 September to apply for a grant.

The funding can be used to carry-out in-depth market research, helping the business to identify the demand for new products and allowing them to hone their ideas to conquer those markets. Projects must be completed by March 2011.

Paul May, executive director of innovation at EEDA, said:

“As the economy continues to recover, businesses are looking to stay that one step ahead of their competitors by bringing new products to market. EEDA’s grants are designed to give local businesses a head-start, by helping them to identify and target lucrative gaps in the market.”

Since EEDA introduced Proof of Market (formerly Proof of Concept) funding back in 2006, 250 projects have shared a total of nearly £5 million. Everything from waterproof socks, next generation wind turbine technology and superconducting magnets have received funding to take them to the next stage of development.

“EEDA’s funding for innovative businesses has a real track record of delivering significant bang for the taxpayers’ buck,” Paul May added. “Independent reports show that for every £1 we invest in a company, over £12 is generated for the region’s economy – whether that’s business growth through increased turnover or creating new jobs.”

Businesses looking to apply for a Proof of Market grant can visit www.eeda.org.uk/finance for more information and to download the application form.