A popular annual competition that aims to inspire the next generation as they prepare to enter the world of work has drawn to a close with a special prize-giving ceremony in Aberdeen.
The Grampian Finals 2018, organised by the region’s Young Enterprise group, saw six groups of north-east secondary school pupils challenge for the best overall team with Lite from Northfield Academy emerging victorious – the first time that the school has been crowned champions in the awards programme.
The budding entrepreneurs impressed judges with their creation of clothing items that promote mental health issues and awareness to beat off fierce competition from Hazlehead Academy (Bloomin’ Brilliant); Mearns Academy (OOPS); Oldmachar Academy (Framed); Inverurie Academy (Revive); and, Peterhead Academy (Forget-Me-Knot).
The Northfield Academy team, which received the trophy and a £400 cash prize, will now go on to face-off against schools from across the country for the title of Scottish Company of the Year. The national finals, featuring 17 regional winners, will be held on Wednesday, June 6 at Hampden Park, Glasgow.
Speaking at the Grampian Finals, managing director of Lite and S5 pupil, Glen Christie, commented: “To become the first team from Northfield Academy to win the Young Enterprise trophy is a fantastic achievement. It was definitely a team effort over the course of the year and I’d like to thank everyone who helped us along the way, including our teachers and business adviser.
“We didn’t expect to come this far so anything after this will be a huge bonus and we can go into the national finals at Hampden with confidence.”
All six finalists pitched their business ideas and faced questions from the Dragons’ Den style judging panel, featuring prominent members of the local business community including Scott McGinigal, technical services manager at Nexen, Shannon Oullette, UK onshore asset manager at Shell, Graham Morgan, deputy chief executive at Elevator and Neil Marchant, former chair of Young Enterprise Grampian.
The Grampian Finals is sponsored by Nexen and Shell. More than 160 people, including friends and family, were in attendance for the final held at the Holiday Inn Aberdeen West, Westhill and hosted by motivational speaker Dee Bleakley.
The S5 and S6 youngsters were judged on criteria including financial management, business acumen and marketing while each team also had to produce their own ‘TV advert’ which was played to the audience on the night.
Karen Wilson, chair of the board at Young Enterprise Grampian and manager – finance operations at Nexen, said: “The standard of entries in this year’s competition was once again very high and our congratulations to all the winners and finalists for demonstrating such enthusiasm and commitment.
“While it’s important to give recognition, the benefits of taking part in initiatives like Young Enterprise can play a far broader role in encouraging entrepreneurialism amongst our young people and driving engagement with the business community.”
This year’s competition welcomed 29 companies from 15 schools across the city and shire. Each group of pupils was assigned a business adviser at the start of the academic year to help them create, set-up and run their own company. Through developing a product and bringing it to market, pupils developed a wide range of skills and received invaluable entrepreneurial experience.
All pupils who took part in this year’s contest have also completed the Young Enterprise exam – a university recognised qualification, run by the University of Strathclyde – after receiving support from the Young Enterprise Grampian committee, who funded the exams.
Shannon Oullette, UK onshore asset manager at Shell, added: “The competition plays an important role in helping young people decide what career path or university course they would like to take. For instance, we have seen a number of pupils indicate that they would now like to run their own business or pursue a career in the STEM subjects having gone through the process.”