YOUNG entrepreneurs have been challenged to think global when developing business ideas for a competition designed to inspire enterprise skills among schoolchildren.

Future Business Magnates (FBM) – an annual competition run by Business Durham, the economic development organisation for County Durham – was launched at Newton Aycliffe’s Xcel Centre with the challenge: Made in County Durham, Sold to the World.

Influential names from the business world, including Bignall Group, Ebac, Hydram, Waterstons, CA Group, Robertson Construction, Roman Limited, Franks the Flooring Store and Zumtobel Group will partner 18 school teams from across County Durham and provide mentoring and support over the next few months.

Sarah Slaven, operations director for Business Durham, said: “Pupils will be encouraged to draw on all of the resources available to them, from their schools, their business partners, and their networks to develop a business idea that has global appeal. We want to see the teams developing a product or service that can be made using the skills found here in County Durham, and be exported around the world.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Our young people are the business people of tomorrow so it’s great that this competition gets them thinking about enterprise.”

Over the next eight months, about 180 pupils will attend a series of specially designed workshops and work with their mentors to develop a business idea, create a prototype and understand how to market and finance their product or service.

Pupils will present their finished concept to the judges and winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in June next year. FBM has helped develop the business acumen and creative flair of hundreds of secondary school children since it was first established in 2005.

Last year’s winner was St John’s School and Sixth Form College, in Bishop Auckland, who created Generation Jigsaw, a product aimed at connecting generations and encouraging conversations in a world saturated by technology. The team is continuing to further develop their product with a view to taking it to market.

Source: Dalington and Stockton Times