Dragon says get involved in the Edge

If you are between 16 and 25 years old, have a great business idea and are (or have been) at college – it’s time to enter the Edge Challenge 2014.

The Edge Foundation has teamed up with the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and Gazelle Colleges Group to find the country’s brightest young entrepreneurs. There is exactly one month left to get involved, with the competition open to entries until 26th September, 2014.

The Edge Challenge, in its second year, is open to past and present students of any FE or Sixth Form college – who have taken (or are undertaking) a course of technical, practical or vocational education and have a bright and innovative business idea. They must be between the ages of 16 and 25.

There are prizes available for individual entrants and also, new for this year, is a team challenge for groups of up to five people. The individual winner will receive £3000 to develop their start up, along with the support of a top mentor for six months. 2nd and 3rd prizes of £1250 and £750 will also be awarded. The top team will receive £5000 to help develop their business proposal.

To enter this exciting competition, students must set out their innovative and viable business idea - including a financial and marketing strategy - and shortlisted candidates will be asked to present their plans to a panel in London. The top three individual entrants and top two teams will then have the opportunity to showcase their ideas at The Skills Show, taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from November 13-15th.

Last year’s winner, Vikesh Mistry (21) from Leicester, impressed the judges with his idea for a specific search engine for driving instructors. He is now developing his business with help from a mentor and his £3000 prize fund. He said: “Winning the Edge Challenge has given my company a phenomenal boost. It has been a busy few months working full time on the business but Instructor Engine has gone from strength to strength and I’m really excited to launch the site officially later this year.”

Jan Hodges OBE, CEO of independent education charity, the Edge Foundation, said: “The Edge Challenge is a wonderful opportunity for young people to get their business ideas off the ground and potentially make them into real successes. Here at the Edge Foundation, we promote technical, practical and vocational learning and this competition will undoubtedly highlight, yet again, what incredible talent there is among students on such courses.

“The new team event will make the Edge Challenge even more exciting and offer a group of young people the chance to turn a business concept into reality. Last year’s finalists were exceptional and choosing a winner was very tough. I wish everyone the best of luck and look forward to seeing the entries.”

Peter Jones CBE, Founder of the Peter Jones Foundation says: “I am delighted that The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy will be working in partnership with the Edge Foundation and the Gazelle Colleges Group to deliver the Edge Challenge, as I believe that all young people should be given the opportunity to equip themselves with the skills to achieve success in the modern, global economy.

“The competition inspires entrepreneurial, innovative and valued individuals and I am particularly supportive of the financial reward and access to business mentoring which the Edge Challenge offers its winner. Learning by doing is the best way to equip students for the workplace, and through this competition, students will get a real taste of the business world.

“I wish all students taking part the very best of luck.”

Fintan Donohue, CEO Gazelle Colleges Group, said: “The Gazelle Colleges Group was founded to create new opportunities for students seeking to build their own futures through a more enterprising and enriching experience at their local college. The fundamental purpose is to give students the commercial skills and experience that will enable them to either create their own businesses or be work ready. Gazelle is delighted to be partnering with the Edge Foundation and the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy on this new competition that will allow our students to put themselves in the running for a life-changing prize of up to £5,000 start-up funding and expert business mentoring.

“This competition will culminate with an exhibition at The Skills Show in Birmingham in November. It is an exciting opportunity for students to demonstrate their entrepreneurial potential.”

Eligible students can register online now for the Edge Challenge www.edge.co.uk/edgechallenge and have until midnight 26th September 2014. The deadline for submissions of detailed business plans is midnight 1st October 2014.