A SHORTLIST of six candidates has been selected to pitch to the judges of this year’s Local Business Accelerators competition – and whoever wins will be in line to get some great advice and support from two local experts.

Nick Parker, managing partner of RSM Tenon in Basingstoke, and Simon Arthur, from Basingstoke law firm Lamb Brooks, have agreed to be on the judging panel of our local LBA shortlisted entries.

Together with Gazette Newspapers editor Mark Jones, they will be picking three winners, who will receive free mentoring support from the duo and a free advertising campaign in Gazette Newspapers publications.

The LBA initiative, which is backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den multi-millionaire investor Deborah Meaden, is being spearheaded by The Newspaper Society and has the support of nearly 500 regional and local newspapers.

The aim is to give key mentoring and advertising support to fledgling enterprises in a bid to fuel the growth of local business and boost the local economy.

Nick is head of tax for RSM Tenon’s Southern Region and offers a wealth of experience, having worked with a number of privately-owned companies and high networth individuals.

Specialising in providing proactive advice to owner-managed businesses on tax and related issues, Nick said: “We are extremely pleased to support a programme which encourages ambition, innovation and entrepreneurship.

“New business start-ups and SMEs play a critical role in boosting the local economy and it is a privilege to work with an entrepreneur during the early stages of their businesses development.”

As a partner in the commercial department at Lamb Brooks, Simon offers advice on fundraising, through angels and other channels, banking arrangements, and also provides general business advice to clients.

Like Nick, he too offers plenty of experience, having overseen deals from small angel investments through to one worth £100million.

Delighted to be on board with The Gazette-backed LBA, Simon said: “It’s a great honour to be asked to act as judge and then mentor in the LBA Awards.

The six finalists are: Betty Blues Loungerie: The business is run by lingerie designer Betty Hobcraft, based in Hartley Wintney.

Brevity Marketing: The marketing company, which offers services to small and medium-size enterprises, across Hampshire is run by Kaia Vincent, based in Basingstoke.

Memo Events: The business exhibition and conference company is run by Matthew Larcome, based at Winton House, in Basingstoke.

RightBag: The laptop bags and iPad sleeve supplier is run by Sarah Evans, based in Basingstoke.

The Nautical Company: This authentic Breton clothes and accessories supplier is run by Sandrine Wyatt-Gonord, in Basingstoke.

Minerva Procurement Solutions: The schools procurement specialist is run by Lorraine Ashover, based at Basepoint Basingstoke.