Budding entrepreneurs impress in college competition

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Students with big ideas recently competed to bring their ideas to life in an entrepreneurial competition at New College Lanarkshire.

The What’s the big idea?! competition is a collaboration between the College, Bridge 2 Business and Young Enterprise Scotland. Aiming to give students the chance to bring their business ideas to life, the competition was open to current New College Lanarkshire students as well as local S4-6 pupils from local schools. Applicants had the chance to showcase their business idea for the chance to win funding and support to help get them started.

Nine entries were shortlisted as finalists to present in front of the judging panel - Ann Baxter, Assistant Principal for Quality at New College Lanarkshire, Geoff Leask, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Scotland, and former student and competition winner Margaret Webster of HungTen Biltong.

At the final awards ceremony held in December at the College’s 101 Park Street venue, HND Art and Design student, Karen Morris (37) came first place for her art and design business, Size3 Art. Karen was awarded £500 to help with marketing, equipment and printing.

She said: "I am absolutely over the moon at winning the enterprise competition. It has definitely boosted my confidence and added to my motivation in starting my creative business, Size3 Art.  Not to mention, it's a great addition to my UCAS personal statement! 

“The fact that others believe my business idea is feasible is very encouraging.  My aim is to sell my colourful abstract art in many forms including original paintings, prints and on stationery, and the support I will receive as well as the prize money from the competition will help me get off to a great start with that. 

“Overall it has been a great experience and I would thoroughly recommend entering future competitions!"

Fellow Art and Design student at the Kirkintilloch Campus, Neil Silvester, was named a runner-up for his idea to offer an exclusive art gallery for military veterans to exhibit and sell their artwork, inspired by his own military service and how art has helped him deal with mental health issues.

He said: “What’s The Big Idea?! provided me and the other finalists a great chance to experience what it is like to pitch ideas to clients.

“It was great to be selected as a runner up as it has given me the confidence and validation needed to carry on with my idea and see it through to fruition.”

A student group from the Faculty of Supported Learning also achieved second prize in the competition, for their business, Student Essentials. Formed by students on the Skills for Life programme, the idea is to provide a stationery shop on campus which includes researching, sourcing and selling of essential items including phone chargers and USB sticks.

They said: “It means so much to us because the event has been really helpful.

“We feel amazing to be the runners up and the money will help our class to become more independent by helping us budget our money and run our own business.”

Both runners-up received £250 and a certificate of recognition from the college, as well as tickets to the Lanarkshire Regional Youth Impact Summit in May 2019, free tickets to the Scottish Youth Impact Summit in June 2019 and free IPSE Student Membership.

All the finalists also received £100 of funding from Young Enterprise Scotland and business support to take their ideas forward.

Audrey Mackrell from the Faculty of Supported Learning, had several students presenting ideas on the evening.

Audrey said: “The What’s the Big Idea?! Competition is a fantastic opportunity for students to really showcase their creative ideas and entrepreneurial skills.

“It has been a fantastic thing for some of the Supported Learning students to get involved in as they’ve had the opportunity to really show everyone their skills, talents and abilities.

“The competition has given them invaluable experience of delivering a business pitch and has given their confidence a huge boost in the process, which will really help them in their future endeavours.

“The students should be really proud of what they have achieved and we are all delighted to have been able to work with Bridge2Business.”

Fraser Morrison, Bridge2Business Programme Executive, said: “It was a privilege to host the competition and see all of the fantastic ideas that the students have been working on.

“This competition is just one of the many fantastic opportunities to get engaged with entrepreneurial activity within the college, and I am excited to see these business ideas develop over the course of the next six months and beyond with 1-2-1 support.

"One of these initiatives is the Market Day programme which sees students being offered support from the Learner Engagement Team's Be Engaged programme and Bridge2Business to host stalls throughout the year on each of the college campuses to get real life selling and business experience. 

“Bridge 2 Business looks forward to continuing our work with New College Lanarkshire in the near future on similar initiatives.”

Head Judge Ann Baxter, Assistant Principal for Quality at New College Lanarkshire, said: “It was a great opportunity for New College Lanarkshire to host “What’s the Big Idea” in partnership with Bridge2Business as we already have a strong track record of promoting entrepreneurial skills with our learners. 

“We have fantastic facilities for learners and we are keen to continue to offer this type of competition that showcases learners’ skills.

“All the learners who participated presented to an extremely high standard and will be an inspiration all future learners.”

For more information about Bridge2Business within New College Lanarkshire, please contact Fraser Morrison on fraser.morrison@yes.org.uk

For more information about learner engagement at New College Lanarkshire, visit: https://www.nclanarkshire.ac.uk/students/student-voice/learner-engagement

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