A BUSINESSMAN who asked: "Who wants to be a millionaire?" has attracted scores of would-be entrepreneurs.

Marketing specialist Jeff Fitzpatrick launched the initiative as his "contribution to the regeneration of the region", in The Northern Echo's Business Echo supplement.

Now he is helping ten of the best candidates to form a limited company.

Mr Fitzpatrick, head of Walker Hall Associates, a business start-up, development, marketing and information technology organisation, had urged people in the Tees Valley and County Durham area with the will and determination to succeed to become self-made millionaires to come forward.

He said: "The response was beyond all my expectations. I have identified 25 people with genuine aspirations, ideas and the energy and desire to succeed.

"Ten of them will form a holding company for ventures operated by the other members of the 25. No one will be excluded, they will all have some share in the businesses created."

The North-East has traditionally suffered from a lack of entrepreneurial spirit, as highlighted by Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Business start-up rates in the region stand at 20 businesses per 10,000 adults, compared with 37 per 10,000 nationally.