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Supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs

News | Posted on Thursday 1 December 2022

Students take part in a week-long entrepreneurial skills workshop, run by the University of York and Entrepreneurial Spark.

The winning students from All Saints RC School with Theraflex.

Last month the University of York, alongside York College, York St John University and Askham Bryan College, partnered with Entrepreneurial Spark and hosted a week-long intensive programme for BTEC Business Studies students to learn entrepreneurial mindsets and skills, culminating in an opportunity to pitch a business idea to a panel of VIP judges.

Entrepreneurial Spark is one of the world’s most successful accelerators for entrepreneurs. Over the last ten years they have worked with over 5,000 founders across four continents to create new opportunities and high-growth businesses. Their secret sauce is the enablement process, which is based around mindsets and behaviours. Instead of trying to teach entrepreneurship, they encourage people to develop the right mindsets and behaviours to discover it for themselves through action.

23 students from All Saints RC School were invited to take part in the programme, which demonstrated entrepreneurship as a legitimate career path, and aimed to provide access routes for under-privileged children who would normally face greater barriers to starting a business later in life.

The students were tasked with solving a problem around Healthy Ageing, and solutions could include ideas around creating healthy active places, design for age-friendly homes or supporting social connections.

Students gained a broad and diverse understanding of entrepreneurship, awareness of the available pathways into entrepreneurship and the support available within the city of York and surrounding area. They also practised ‘entrepreneurial thinking’ skills, employability skills, and honed their creativity, confidence and resilience.

The week culminated with the student teams pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges who awarded the winning prize to Theraflex - a therapeutic slipper designed to aid mobility in the 70+ age demographic.

Reflecting on the event, Sam Gardner, Director of Enterprise Works at the University of York said;

“I was really impressed by the students, their energy and focus during the pitches. It’s clear that they learnt new skills and became more confident as the week progressed. The standard of the competition was very high!”

Sarah Bilton, Head of Business at All Saints RC School said;

"Our students developed some excellent ideas from the brief. It was clear that they all grew in confidence across the week, and this meant their ‘pitches’ at the Guildhall to the judges were exceptionally professional.  They confidently handled questions about their ideas with knowledge, passion and expertise. This opportunity has given them the opportunity to understand more about Business, which they are all studying, and develop some of the skills required to be a successful entrepreneur."

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