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Young Innovators Challenge

The Scottish Government wants to support new business development and innovative ideas from Scotland’s final year students and have launched The Young Innovators Challenge managed by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise. There are 6 prizes of up to £50,000 to be won and competition winners will also be guaranteed a years’ worth of business support to help develop their idea into a viable business after graduation.

Five key industry sectors have been selected by the government for this initiative: oil & gas; renewables; textiles; food & drink, and built environment. Students are invited to submit an idea for a new business in one of the sectors for a chance to win funding and support to take their idea forward. Ideas out with those sectors can be entered into a General category.

The ideas will be judged by industry experts and, on graduating, the winner from each category could receive up to £50,000 funding and a year’s business support to develop their idea for a new business or social enterprise. Shortlisted entrants (3 per category) will be invited to attend a 4 day residential bootcamp (an intensive experience to develop business skills.)

Five Challenge Videos have been produced to help inspire new ideas. Each video provides an overview of the sector, opportunities and the challenges faced. These videos were debuted at Challenge Lab events in February and are now viewable online (at www.sie.ac.uk/YIC and on youtube: YIC2013challenges).

The competition web pages also include useful tips and guidance from the events and additional information to help you with your entry. If you complete the first stage of the application by April 8th you’ll be guaranteed a 1-to-1 meeting with a business advisor from SIE who’ll help you work on your idea! Entry is online from www.sie.ac.uk/YIC. There are two parts to your entry and both parts must be complete by May 31st. If you complete the first part by April 8th, however, you’ll be guaranteed a one-to one meeting with an advisor from the Scottish Institute for Enterprise who will help you with your idea.

Scotland has produced some of the world’s greatest innovators and most enduring ideas. Are you up to the Challenge?

• See the YIC newsletter, for up-to-date information, tips and advice. Sign up at: – www.sie.ac.uk/YIC
• Follow the challenge on twitter: – twitter @YIC2013 (#inspirationalideas)
• Watch the Challenge videos on Youtube: -YIC2013challenges
• Like the challenge on Facebook : – www.facebook.com/younginnovatorschallenge

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We recently ran a poll on our Facebook page, asking people what their motivation would be for starting their own business. The response was great; nearly 50 people took part, and the results were very interesting indeed.

Despite the headline, ‘make lots of money’ was a reason selected by only 4 people, even though they could vote for more than one thing. What came top was ‘to be happy’, closely followed by ‘be in control of my own career’.  Interestingly, we originally asked the question of students, then opened it up to business owners, but the responses were the same.

There is no doubt that being able to control your career is an important consideration, especially when when jobs are hard to come by, and few of us have a job for life any more.

I wonder if the results would have been the same, however, if this question had been asked in the ’80s?  Perhaps in that brash, confident decade, making money would have been rated higher (remember the movie Wall Street?) But maybe it’s these very images that make people wary of admitting that they are motivated by money.

I’m certainly not surprised that people want to be happy, nor that they want to control their career. I am a little surprised that making money doesn’t come higher up though. After all, if you don’t make any money, your business will not succeed.

And if you accept that you need to make some money, why should your ambition not want be ‘to make a lot of money’? When all is said and done, it’s what you can do with the money that will make you (and the people you can support/employ/help/educate with that money) happy, after all.

I’ve just been asked to give a 5 – 10 minute talk; my personal take on entrepreneurship. Well, it is a bit of a challenge for me to speak for 10 minutes, as anyone that knows me will understand (I find it hard to stop at 40 minutes).

So, in an attempt to be concise, I thought I’d draft a short list, in no particular order, of what I believe to be entrepreneurial characteristics. This is a personal view, and open to debate, so do share your thoughts.

  1. You can see opportunities where someone else sees obstacles
  2. You have a strong desire to make things happen
  3. You can join the dots; seeing synergies that no-one else has noticed
  4. When someone asks you if you can do something, your first instinct is to say yes, then you figure out how you are going to do it
  5. There’s lots of things you can’t do – but you know people who can
  6. There’s lots of things you can’t do yet, but you are determined to learn and develop new skills – quickly (so you talk to SIE)
  7. You don’t know everything, but you ask a lot of questions – your knowledge grows fast
  8. You know a lot of like-minded people; which means you know what they know (see points 5 and 7)
  9. You have limited resources – so you become resourceful
  10. You know you don’t have to do everything yourself, but you do have to take ultimate responsibility to make things happen
  11. You are open to new ideas
  12. You are enthusiastic, passionate, idealistic
  13. You want to make money, but not necessarily for yourself
  14. You are willing to fail, and keep failing, until you succeed
  15. You never give up.
Thanks to everyone that shared their thoughts with me on the SIE facebook page and on Twitter. 

What resources do you need to get your promising business idea off the ground?
Well, according to Consol Efomi of Make That Move, all you need is yourself and the clothes you stand up in. Consol was responding to a question put to him at our recent SIE Regional Enterprise Day at Ayr, where he gave an inspirational talk on how his entrepreneurial journey started and his vision for the future of his company.

Consol started his business with nothing at his disposal except his determination and his skills as a Hip Hop dancer. He decided to run a dance class,  but he didn’t have the money to buy the sound system that he needed for the class. So he asked. And someone loaned him the system.  He needed a website to promote the classes; so he asked and someone helped him. He became, in his words ‘A Master Asker‘, and his dance class business grew. Now, with SIE’s assistance, Consol is about to embark on the next stage of his entrepreneurial career, as he prepares to launch an on-line resource for choreographers around the world.

Like many new entrepreneurs, Consol has discovered that if you have passion and determination, people will help you to achieve your goals. Of course, we all know that it’s not quite that simple, but if you truly want to turn your idea into a business reality, help is out there. You only need to ask.

There seems to be endless debate about how entrepreneurship can be defined, and many of the definitions are highly complicated. One of the simplest, most accepted definitions comes from Harvard’s Howard Stevenson who states that “Entrepreneurship is the process by which individuals pursue opportunities without regard to the resources they currently control.” It’s a short definition that alludes to the fact that entrepreneurs don’t have to have everything in place before they take that first step.

I think that Consul puts it even more succinctly and accurately, however, with his definition of Entrepreneurs as “Master Askers”!

NEW: Check out our video of Consol speaking at SIE’s regional enterprise day in Ayr in November!

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