UHI Business Ideas Competition
13 September 2012

August 2012 Press Release
The Search is on for Highland Entrepreneurs Budding businessmen and women across the Highlands have the chance to turn their dreams into reality with the launch of the seventh annual UHI Business Ideas Competition. 

The competition, organised by CREATE, Inverness College UHI’s centre for Enterprise and Innovation, is the perfect opportunity for the next Richard Branson or Michelle Mone to step up and showcase their idea. With a prize fund totalling an impressive £7500, all residents of the Highlands and Islands, Morayshire and Perthshire aged over 16 can enter by answering four simple questions about their business idea.
Applicants can put forward ideas at any stage of development, from a simple concept to a fully costed business plan. The prize money aims to provide a stepping stone towards bringing the idea to life.

Selected finalists will then present their idea to a Dragons’ Den style panel at Inverness College UHI on 14 November 2012.
All finalists will receive valuable expert advice from judges and Business Gateway representatives. The judging day concludes with a glittering awards ceremony attended by over 80 invited guests.

The guest speaker sponsored by LifeScan Scotland Ltd is Mike Southon, a successful serial entrepreneur and co-author of several best-selling business books including The Beermat Entrepreneur and Sales on a Beermat.

Carol Langston, head of CREATE said: “With the UK experiencing slow economic growth and youth unemployment high on the political agenda, new businesses are key to the creation of jobs and new opportunities. “Since this competition was launched in 2006 we have learned there is no shortage of innovative, motivated and resourceful people in the region and many of our winners have gone on to start successful ventures.
“What’s more, we now know that many young people consider starting a business to be part of their futures. We’ve launched the competition just as the results from the Carnegie UK Trust’s Enterprising Minds survey has revealed that half of college students who have received enterprise education are likely to be pro-business and self-employment. “Inverness College UHI took part in the project which surveyed 1600 students from across the UK. The results highlight the importance of enterprise education in schools, colleges and universities.”

Last year’s top prize of £1500 went to Laura Nicholson and Penny Phillips for their Velocity Café and Bicycle Workshop idea. They also received the £1000 Social Enterprise Award.  Laura said: “We entered the UHI Business Ideas competition in the very early stages of our idea for a bicycle cafe and workshop but we thought we'd just take a chance. “When we found out we had reached the final we were amazed and preparing to meet the judges allowed us to focus on the idea and ensure we had everything right. We were overjoyed when we found out that we'd won. “Since the competition we have gone from strength to strength. We now operate with a board of seven dynamic directors and we are about to move into our new premises. “Over the summer we have been running courses and events to celebrate cycling. Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop has already become a place for people to hang out and enjoy life. We can’t wait for the new location to open so more and more people can come and take part. She added: “It’s been tough at times but mostly fun. The award gave Penny and I the confidence to believe in our idea and lots of things we had just dreamt of before have actually happened.”

CREATE is funded by the European Social Fund, The Highland Council, Scotland’s Colleges and Inverness College UHI to help students and graduates increase their enterprising skills and to help individuals start up their own businesses and become self-employed.
The closing date for the competition is 24 October 2012.

To enter, or for more information, please contact Alison Harrison at CREATE on Alison.harrison@inverness.uhi.ac.uk.

For more information, images or interviews, please contact Dyan Berry at Weber Shandwick on 01463 716 739 or dberry@webershandwick.com.
Notes to Editors:
The questions which competitors must answer are:
 What is your idea?
 What inspired you?
 Who are your intended customers?
 What do you need to make your business a reality?
Inverness College UHI is now part of the new University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland’s newest university.
Offering 200 courses to over 8,500 students, Inverness College UHI is the largest of the colleges in the Highlands and Islands, and the largest partner in the group of colleges and research institutions working together to form a university of the Highlands and Islands. There are now three campuses in Inverness including a specialist School of Forestry; a further education centre in Dingwall and a specialist aquaculture, fisheries management and research facility at Kishorn in Wester Ross.
For more information, please visit www.createhighland.com

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