Students encouraged to discover entrepreneurial spark with What’s the Big Idea!?


New College Lanarkshire has launched a programme to encourage students to consider starting up their own businesses.

The ‘What’s the Big Idea!?’ initiative was introduced recently at our Coatbridge Campus.

The launch event featured presentations from Bridge 2 Business, The Prince’s Trust, Business Gateway, Scottish Institute for Enterprise and the College’s Learner Engagement team on the wide range of help available to students.

A talk from Scottish entrepreneur David Kellock, whose Trtl travel pillow was featured on BBC Two series Dragons’ Den, opened the event.

He told more than 100 students in attendance that his catalyst for starting up a business came about by chance.

The engineering graduate said that it was an unexpected visit from Kwik-Fit tycoon Sir Tom Farmer to his class at the University of Strathclyde that encouraged David and classmate Michael Corrigan to brainstorm ideas for a business.

Their Trtl company has now grown from selling 120 prototypes over six days at an Edinburgh Christmas market in 2012 to selling 500 a day and employing a team of seven people.

He encouraged students to think about starting a business in a niche that they are passionate about, and to create a great company culture.

Afterwards, he chatted with NC Social Sciences student Natalie McCready, 19, from Coltness, Wishaw, who has set up her own company, Natalie’s Glitter Glasses, with help from Bridge 2 Business.

Students also heard from the College’s Learner Engagement team, who told students about the opportunities available through the Wee Shop initiative, in which students can make use of vintage-inspired wooden market carts to sell goods or promote their business.

The team will support students through mentoring and a small start-up fund to be used on marketing and stock.

Learner Engagement Officer Ross Brand said: “An opportunity such as this may simply be as a hobby, or it could be something with a bit more purpose.

“There are a number of essential skills that can be developed by being involved in enterprise activities, which can in turn enhance future career prospects.”

Stuart Matson, Community Programmes Manager for New College Lanarkshire, said: “The event was a great opportunity to showcase the agencies and services they offer, in terms of guidance, support and funding to those who may have an idea about starting their own business.

“All partners wanted to highlight to students that business ideas could be large or small.

“I’d encourage all students to think about submitting an idea, which, if they want to take forward, can be discussed with and supported by the appropriate partners.”

Students have until Friday, December 9 to submit a business idea, either by filling out a hard copy of the What’s the Big Idea!? entry form or by completing an online entry at:

All students who submit a short business proposal will be entered into a prize draw to win a Fitbit.

As part of Global Enterprise Week, there will be an Enterprise Roadshow with representatives from Bridge 2 Business, Scottish Institute for Enterprise, the Prince’s Trust, RBS Business and Worldpay at the College’s Motherwell Campus on Tuesday, November 15.

Sukie Grewall, Enterprise Executive at Young Enterprise Scotland, offers advice to students through the Bridge 2 Business programme that has been based within the Motherwell Campus for more than two years.

She said: “We have had the opportunity to work alongside many students across all campuses on business start-ups, business plans, referrals and general advice.

“Being involved in ‘What’s the Big Idea!?’ has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase and engage with students and lecturers about the great work we do and what impact we are making in the Lanarkshire region.

“It’s about educating students that advice and support is available if you are looking to start up your business or looking for funding resources.”

Download an application form here:

What's the Big Idea!?

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