Initiative launched to stimulate entrepreneurship amongst young people

A competition to inspire business ideas and boost the entrepreneurial skills of young people was launched today by Invest Northern Ireland.

The Make Your Mark Challenge is well established as the UK’s largest one day enterprise competition for 14-19 year olds, and takes place on 16 November 2009, during Global Entrepreneurship Week. The challenge will have a low carbon theme and will be run for the first time ever in Northern Ireland this year.

The competition is organised by Make Your Mark, funded locally by Invest NI, and sponsored by the Department of Education.

Teams of four to six young people will be given 24 hours to work intensively and come up with innovative business ideas in response to a secret brief which will be revealed online on the day of the event.

Following regional assessment of each team’s idea, the Northern Ireland final judging session will take place on 27 November. The winning teams will progress to the UK final in London on 10 December where they will each have an opportunity to win £1,000 to further develop their concept.

Teams from post-primary schools and further education colleges can enter the competition which has two categories, one for 14-16 year olds and another for 16-19 year olds.

Ian Murphy, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Clients and Entrepreneurship, said: “Young people in Northern Ireland have a vast amount of entrepreneurial talent. It is imperative that we harness this capability now and prepare our next generation of business leaders, by giving them the opportunity to put their enterprising skills into practice.

“The Make Your Mark Challenge will provide an opportunity for participants to demonstrate their commercial acumen by thinking creatively, collaborating with fellow team members, problem solving and persevering in practical ways. It will also encourage young people to exploit commercial possibilities, and learn how to develop products or services that can be exported to generate significant profits.”

Katrina Godfrey of the Department of Education said: “The Make Your Mark Challenge complements the school curriculum, particularly in relation to business related studies. Initiatives such as this can play an important role in helping our young people, particularly those who wish to be entrepreneurs or business leaders, to understand crucial principles which will enable them to perform effectively in their future careers.”

Martha Jennings of Make Your Mark said: “It’s great to hear that schools and colleges across Northern Ireland will be taking part in the Make Your Mark Challenge, which this year will encourage participants to come up with carbon-neutral business ideas. This next generation of budding entrepreneurs will learn essential enterprise skills, and think about the impact they might have on the planet.”

Free to enter, the Make Your Mark Challenge offers teachers a fun and rewarding way to engage their students in an enterprising activity.