I'm really looking forward to the launch of the Big Ideas Wales Challenge today - and to taking to the pitch with rugby great Leigh Halfpenny.
Here's the Welsh Government press release about the event -
Big Ideas Wales Challenge launched to identify and support Wales’ young entrepreneurs of the future
One of the largest campaigns undertaken to identify and develop Wales’ young entrepreneurs of the future has been launched by the Welsh Government today (Wednesday, 23rd October 2013), backed by “Secret Millionaire”, Kevin Green and SuperStars entrepreneur, James Taylor.
Hundreds of young people throughout Wales are being invited to apply for 50 places on the Big Ideas Wales Challenge, launched by Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates AM.
The Challenge will scour Wales, interviewing hundreds of young people aged between 16 and 24 years of age, seeking their “big ideas” and helping to develop and cultivate 50 of these into commercial opportunities.
Entrepreneur James Taylor will act as an ambassador for the Challenge. He began his business, Superstars, with a bursary under the Welsh Government Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy (YES) in 2005 and has grown the business that now employs more than 180 people.
“As part of Welsh Government’s Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy (YES) this flagship challenge has been steered by entrepreneurs to support future entrepreneurs. I am pleased that James Taylor of Superstars will be the ambassador for this Challenge,” said Mr Skates.
“The engagement of the business community will be crucial, to provide peer support to these young entrepreneurs. We’d like to encourage business to pledge practical support to help them through the challenging period of starting a business.”
The business community - entrepreneurs, role models and others partners - will be invited to make individual pledges practical support to help these young people on their journey. This will complement business start up support already in place by Welsh Government and partners.
Speaking at the launch, James said: “We really need to inspire and harness the entrepreneurial talent in Wales. Through this Big Ideas Challenge we’ll take them through from initial auditions to a three day challenging bootcamp. At bootcamp they’ll work with entrepreneurs and experts to build their confidence in their ideas.”
“We hope the business community will back this challenge and pledge help. We’ll also back them during the first year through monthly board meetings, networking events and work shadowing opportunities. If we can identify future entrepreneurs now, then we can encourage some great business ideas for the future.”
The Challenge begins with the auditions throughout November at venues throughout Wales, backed by pledges from businesses, individuals and organisations to support the 50 young people, followed by the boot camp in January. Details and application can be found at www.bigideaswales.com.
Businesses can pledge help that reflects the nature of the business, such as branding and PR packages, trade stands, office space, accounting packages, capital investment and essential equipment. Visit www.bigideaswales.com to pledge.
Also backing the challenge is self-made multi-millionaire and social entrepreneur Kevin Green, who featured on Channel 4’s “Secret Millionaire” programme.
“Young people have drive and ambition, as well as great ideas. The Big Ideas Wales Challenge is a way of developing and focusing those ideas into a reality and I’m pleased to be backing it,” he said.
The Challenge was launched at Cardiff Arms Park, home of the Cardiff Blues and Wales winger, Leigh Halfpenny, who has been named as the Most Inspirational Person in Wales in a survey of 1,000 young people undertaken by Big Ideas Wales.
“It’s great to be seen as an inspirational person for young people. And when you consider it, business and sport is very closely linked.
“Not just in the commercial and management sense, but as an individual you have to strive and work towards the goals you want while working with a team to develop those opportunities and rewards. That’s mirrored in the business world where grit and determination can help you reach your goal.
“I wish the Big Ideas Challenge all the best and would urge young people to apply for the auditions and put their big ideas forward. Who knows where it might lead.”
Big Ideas Wales
Big Ideas Wales is a Welsh Government campaign designed to encourage young people to be more entrepreneurial and help those interested in starting a business take their ideas forward.
This is a key action of the Welsh Government’s Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy for Wales Action Plan 2010-15, a joint strategy between the Department for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science (BETS) and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). Further information on the actions and Strategy is available on www.BigIdeasWales.com
The campaign itself is managed by Menter a Busnes as the service provider for the Youth Entrepreneurship Services 16-24. This service is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.