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Young entrepreneurs compete for business title

Wed, 13 Mar 2013

Budding entrepreneurs will go head to head at the University of East Anglia next week in the final of a young enterprise competition.

The university's Norwich Business School will host the Young Enterprise Norfolk Area Final on March 20, which will see pupils from schools in the county compete to have their business named Company of the Year.

It is the first time the event has been hosted by UEA and comes in the year that both the university and Young Enterprise, the UK's largest business education charity, celebrate their 50th anniversary.

The Young Enterprise companies, comprising between 10 and 20 Year 12 pupils, have been trading since October 2012. Each group has set up its own business - including assigning management roles and opening a business bank account - either selling a product or providing a service. Start-up funds are raised by selling shares in the company and volunteers from local businesses support each company by acting as advisors. At the end of the process they are invited to compete in the area final, with the winner going on to represent Norfolk in the East of England final later this year.

Staff and student volunteers from Norwich Business School have been working with the charity to provide business advice to three Young Enterprise companies based at Norwich High School for Girls.

Dr Kevan Williams from the business school said: "Young Enterprise is a wonderful programme and we hope that this collaboration continues to develop in the future. All the students involved in the teams and as mentors are developing valuable skills that will support their careers in the future work environment. The products and efforts of the teams are very impressive and we are delighted to host this final."

Eleven companies are due to take part in next week's event, including Food Safe (Norwich School), an app that tells people when their food is about to run out of date, and Y-Drive (Wymondham College), a USB stick that is pre-loaded with software that helps sync, back-up and restore files on computers and memory sticks.

Products developed by the businesses at Norwich High School for Girls include a pre-packed handbag kit containing essentials such as tissues, lip balm, earring backs and hair bands; customised stationery; and a CD of tracks by local bands. Other companies attending the area final are from Wymondham High School, City of Norwich School, and Ormiston Victory Academy and Thorpe St Andrew School in Norwich.

Ahead of the final each company must produce a 10-page company report and on the day they must set up their trade stand and answer questions from the judges. They will also give a presentation to the audience of fellow pupils, the judges, and invited guests. Guest speaker at the event will be UEA alumnus Joshua Davies, who graduated in 2000 and set up successful local digital consultancy and development firm FX Home.

In Norfolk and Suffolk this academic year Young Enterprise will work with more than 2000 students and 140 volunteers. Over 400 of those students have set up and are running 35 businesses providing a range of products and services.

Patricia Hagan, Young Enterprise manager for Norfolk and Suffolk, said: "We are really looking forward to holding the annual Aviva / Young Enterprise Business awards at Norwich Business School, which seems particularly appropriate as both Young Enterprise and UEA are celebrating their 50th anniversaries. For the first time this year, business mentors from UEA have worked as volunteers with students taking part in our Company Programme. This partnership has proved very successful and we plan to develop and expand our joint activities so that together we can build a connected world of young people, business volunteers and educators, inspiring each other to succeed through enterprise."

Further information about Young Enterprise can be found at