London Met runs one of UK’s biggest competitions for young entrepreneurs

Over 500 pupils apply for Big Idea Challenge, in partnership with big brands including NatWest, Unilever and Microsoft

Date: 29 February 2016

Over 500 pupils from schools and colleges across London have been given the chance to put their entrepreneurial ideas to the test thanks to a brand new business competition.

The Big Idea Challenge invited hundreds of students to come up with enterprising ideas and pitch them to some of the capital’s biggest brands - with a chance of setting up their own business up for grabs.

Teams from 10 schools have now been shortlisted to take part in a ‘boot camp’ day at NatWest’s Bishopsgate offices this week, on Friday 4 March, where they will receive expert help to develop their business ideas and compete for the top prize.

The competition is being run London Metropolitan University’s business incubator, Accelerator, and the Outreach, Events and Widening Participation Team, and is aimed at engaging young people with an interest in entrepreneurship.

NatWest, Unilever and Microsoft are all on board for the competition, which is one of the biggest entrepreneurship completions for college students in the UK.

They will be providing expert mentors to help the teams to develop their ideas and turn them into viable businesses.

Toby Kress, Head of Accelerator at London Met, said: “London Met is committed to giving young people the opportunity to change their lives for the better. And one of the most powerful ways to do this is to give them the tools to start their own business one day and take their destiny into their own hands.

“For those that dream of being entrepreneurs, this competition is an inspiration and the first step on the journey. Participants will work with experienced mentors to develop their ideas and a pitching coach to learn how to communicate and get people excited.

“There will also be a public vote for the winner so all of the finalist teams will have pitch videos made for them that will go on the Big Idea Challenge website, giving them a platform to be noticed and a way to demonstrate what they’ve accomplished when applying to universities or jobs.

“The students are so enthusiastic and passionate. I can’t wait to see where they take their ideas.”

Mirce-Francisco Viera, a Level 3 Business Studies student at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, said: “The Big Idea Challenge is a great opportunity to collaborate in a team and organise ideas. It has really inspired me to be more optimistic about going into business.”

Julia Bollam, a teacher at Newham College, said her pupils have gained confidence from participating in the competition.

“Newham College is delighted to be taking part in the Big Idea Challenge,” she said. “Our students have been inspired to unleash their potential and come up with some great business ideas.”

Many of the students taking part are from low income and diverse backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the start-up world. This is an opportunity for them to be inspired, learn new skills and gain valuable experience.