A NEW app-based game and a revolutionary road surface manufacturer remain in the running to pitch their business ideas to Sir Richard Branson.

The startups - Geo Hitch from Carlisle and Macrebur, of Eaglesfield, Dumfries and Galloway - are taking part in the Voom competition, organised by Virgin Media.

Representatives from both companies pitched for three minutes to a panel of business experts and were then questioned for seven minutes.

They were on a shortlist of 160, getting that far after a public vote, and have been selected for the semi-final shortlist of 40.

The winners will receive a share of £1m in prize money.

Martin Peck, one of the founders of Geo Hitch, said: "We are quite chuffed. There have been about 5,000 businesses in the whole competition so to be in the semi-finals is a great achievement."

He predicted that getting to the next stage would be "tough" but added: "We are quite confident."

Mr Peck put the success down to the app's uniqueness.

"There is nothing else out there like it."

Only one person from each business was allowed into the room where the pitch was done, and this was Jonathan Lowe for Geo Hitch.

Toby McCartney, who is originally from Carlisle, did the pitch for Macrebur and the panel he faced included Sir Richard's daughter, Holly.

He said: "It was the first time I have ever pitched for business. I am used to public speaking but i had never done a presentation for business."

The firms will take part in competitive workshops next week, which will examine their feasibility, scalability and likelihood of success.

The top six get the chance to pitch to Sir Richard and another panel of experts.

Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business, said: “It was extremely tough to select just 40 businesses – the calibre and variety of all the pitches we heard was of a very high standard and gives us great confidence in the future of UK entrepreneurship.”

Two other Cumbrian companies – Cockermouth-based Authentic Maths and TutorSys, from Barrow – also pitched but did not progress any further.