A BUSINESSMAN is prepared to invest £100,000 of his own cash in a bid to discover Essex’s answer to Bill Gates or Alan Sugar.

Philip Miller, one of Southend’s top entrepreneurs, wants to hear ideas from budding businessmen and women as he launches the Who Wants to be a Miller on Air competition.

The entry judged to have the best business idea will win the £100,000 investment.

Mr Miller, who owns Adventure Island and Sea-Life Adventure, said he wanted to help up-and-coming entrepreneurs suffering from a lack of bank lending and too much red tape.

He said: “We are in tough financial times and all need to work hard together.

“You can’t just rely on the Government to get the economy back on track.

“I truly believe Essex has the most entrepreneurial spirit in the UK and that is why I am putting my money where my mouth is.

“I’m looking for an idea to back and to build that business up.”

The competition is open to anyone, of all ages and from any walk of life, who believes they have got a good idea to create a successful new venture of any kind.

All they need to do is go to www.miller-on-air.co.uk and explain their idea in no more than 100 words before Sunday 30 January 2011.

Mr Miller, 55, and his panel of trusted business experts will examine all the entries before selecting the nine best proposals to come and pitch to him personally.

The £100,000 winning idea will be selected for its originality and business potential, and will be announced on Friday, March 11, next year.

The whole nail-biting process can be heard on Southend Radio and Chelmsford Radio, and you can watch the filmed interviews on www.miller-on-air.co.uk Mr Miller added: “I am very proud of being an Essex boy.

“It would be fantastic to give someone fresh a leg up.

“Who knows? They could become bigger than Bill Gates.

“Don’t be shy, just get in touch.

“Enter now and you could be on the way to becoming a millionaire.”

Who Wants to be a Miller on Air has been given the backing of Essex Chambers of Commerce and Southend Council.

Essex Chambers managing director Denise Rossiter said: “We fully support this quest to assist budding businesses.

“Essex is a great breeding ground for new business and with the backing and investment of someone such as Philip, a new venture will have the very best opportunity to succeed in these challenging times.

“We would like to encourage as many people as possible to take part in this chance of a lifetime.”

Southend’s councillor for enterprise, tourism and regeneration, Ian Robertson, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for people to transform an innovative idea into a viable business.

“By offering this practical and most generous springboard, Mr Miller is giving the bright sparks of this area a terrific boost.

“Success breeds success, so the launch of one new commercial venture will hopefully encourage others to follow suit.”