It’s BizSpark European Summit rehearsal day and the level of adrenalin here at Microsoft’s London offices – where we’ve got 15 start-ups all being put through their paces ahead of tomorrow’s big day – is high. Like we do every year, we provide the finalists in tomorrow’s pitch competition as much support as possible, so that when they face their panels of judges – among who will be some of Europe’s top investors, visionaries and business leaders – they are ready.

Of course, quite a few of the start-ups are old hands at pitching on stage, but practice makes perfect. Certainly, I’ve heard several start-ups say they’ve really valued the presentation coaching they’ve been receiving for the past few weeks. Today, they did their last practice run in front of their peers (plus a whole host of Microsoft people and mentors) and I have to say that they are a pretty impressive crowd.

My colleagues have also been carrying out video interviews with each of the finalists – expect to see these appear on the BizSpark site and other Microsoft sites over the next few months.

So what will the winner stand to gain? Well, apart from the visibility and credibility that the top slot has given winners in previous years, the prize includes a trip to Silicon Valley to meet with senior Microsoft executives, make some useful introductions and do some serious networking. Through our sponsorship of the European Commission’s new Tech Stars competition, we will also be able to offer one ticket to Le Web London. And, the winner can expect to receive PR throughout 2012 and beyond. There is also a People’s Choice award, open voting for which closes at midnight on June 6th/

So who do I think will win? Of course, I’m biased towards the Israeli cloud security start-up Foresight, but the calibre of all 15 finalists this year is incredibly high.  A few of my personal favourites:  Jampot (Ireland) with its Appbuilder (lets you build mobile apps very quickly) Germany’s 6Wunderkinder (clever task management) and Fitting Reality, with its virtual fitting room.   Any one of them would deserve the winner slot. I think that the judges tomorrow are going to have a tough time picking just one.

I’m looking forward to a packed day of keynote presentations, intensive panel debates (the app economy, the talent challenge and the business of cloud), plus of course, the start-up pitches. I wish every one of them the very best of luck.  Catch the live video stream if you can!

This blog post was written by guest blogger Amir Pinchas, Finance Director at BizSpark Israel.

Amir Pinchas is in charge of in-depth engagements and industry outreach with Israel’s startup community. He works with local startups to explore areas for cooperation with and help from Microsoft, and helps Microsoft identify interesting technologies to create inorganic growth opportunities.

Amir is a finance professional with over 7 years in finance strategy and business development focused on multinational high tech companies.

In his previous role, Amir led the Capital finance team in Numonyx Ltd. (Intel memory division spinoff) responsible for large scale investments and strategic consulting to senior management. Before that Amir was senior finance analyst at Intel focused on strategic capital analysis and managed over a Billion dollar capital investment budget. Amir also managed over a Billion dollar cash flow of Intel Israel entities.