Young entrepreneurs have been set the challenge of thinking global when developing their business ideas for a competition designed to inspire enterprise skills among schoolchildren.
Future Business Magnates (FBM) – an annual competition run by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham – was launched at Newton Aycliffe’s Xcel Centre with the challenge: Made in County Durham, Sold to the World.
Influential names from the business world, including Ebac, Roman, Hydram, Bignall Group, Waterstons, CA Group, Robertson Construction, Franks the Flooring Store and Zumtobel Group, will partner 18 school teams from across County Durham and provide mentoring and support over the next few months.
Sarah Slaven, operations director for Business Durham, which works on behalf of Durham County Council, said: “Pupils taking part in Future Business Magnates have always proved just how imaginative County Durham’s young people can be.
“We are looking forward to seeing the innovative ideas they will come up with in this year’s competition.
“Pupils will be encouraged to draw on all of the resources available to them, from their schools, their business partners, and their networks to develop a business idea that has global appeal.
“We want to see the teams developing a product or service that can be made using the skills found here in County Durham, and be exported around the world.”
Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Our young people are the business people of tomorrow so it’s great that this competition gets them thinking about enterprise.
“We hope they take a lot from the experience of working with big names from the private sector and we’re really looking forward to seeing the fruits of their creativity.”
Over the next eight months, around 180 pupils will attend a series of specially designed workshops and work with their mentors to develop a business idea, create a prototype and understand how to market and finance their product or service.
Pupils will present their finished concept to the judges and winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in June next year.
FBM has helped develop the business acumen and creative flair of hundreds of secondary school children since it was first established in 2005.
The winner of last year’s competition was St John’s School and Sixth Form College, in Bishop Auckland, who created Generation Jigsaw, a product aimed at connecting generations and encouraging conversations in a world saturated by technology.
Following the competition, the team is continuing to further develop their product with a view to taking it to market.