PAWS4THOUGHT FROM WILMSLOW HIGH CROWNED WINNER OF DRAGONS DEN AT CHESHIRE OAKS RETAIL OUTLET

Paws4Thought from Wilmslow High School impressed the judges and came out as overall winners, with Seeds ‘n’ Stuff from Cheshire College South Campus coming in a close second.

Students from 6 schools and colleges across Cheshire and Warrington took part in the Dragons Den competition, hosted by Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet.  The winning team’s idea of a handmade sustainable dog toy set made from recycled materials really caught the judges’ attention.

Students have been participating in the Young Enterprise Company Programme, setting up and running their own real life enterprises, from dog toys to bamboo straws, they have sourced materials, designed products, created business plans and marketed to the public.  The Dragons Den gives them an opportunity to present to a panel of business people and consumers.

We were lucky to have an expert judging panel; Sam Taylor (Production Planning, Bentley Motors), Ash Mason (HR Graduate, Bentley Motors), Steve McConnell (The Montage Company), and Joanne Forshaw (Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet), and Jonny Beatson (Accenture).

Schools and colleges who were competing to be the judges favourite today were Cheshire College South and West Campuses, Wilmslow High School, UTC Warrington, Blacon High School, and Bishop Heber High School.

Each of these teams, plus another 10 more, will be competing at the end of April for top honours in the Cheshire and Warrington county finals of this year’s Young Enterprise Company Programme.

The county final will be held at Chester Business School, a faculty of University of Chester based at the impressive state of the art Queens Park Campus, on 22nd April.

The event will be attended by more than 160 students who have worked all year with staff and mentors to get to the county final showcase in the hoping of being crowned champions of Cheshire and Warrington for their business.

Young Enterprise works with over 250,000 students every year and thousands of young people aged 15-19 from across the country have set up and run a real business or social enterprise with Company Programme - Young Enterprise’s flagship enterprise education programme supported nationally by HSBC.

Young Enterprise research shows Company Programme participants develop key employability skills and a longitudinal study of Company Programme alumni has shown that in the two years following their company’s closure, 95% are in education, employment or training [EET] – 7% higher than the national rate of 88%.

Suzanne Lockwood, Area Manager for C+W at Young Enterprise, said: “I am always impressed by the quality of business idea that the students come up with, it’s not an easy task, yet they always rise to the challenge.  It's the ultimate measure of many months of hard work, representing their creativity, resilience and business acumen - I wish them the best of luck.

“Our new strategy, No Time Like The Future, demonstrates that, in this rapidly changing world, this generation believes that education alone is not enough.  Almost half of young people say education has not prepared them for the world of work, according to YouGov.  So Young Enterprise are doing our part to help give them the skills they need to thrive in the future.

“You don’t get this stuff from a text book and we are greatly encouraged by our research which shows that 95% of Company alumni go on to education, employment or training - 7% higher than the national average of 88%.”

Steve McConnell, Freelance IT Director, The Montage Company, said "A truly inspirational day judging business minds of the future today. Based on these ideas and presentations, the future of British business is definitely in safe hands. Well done to all teams involved".

Joy Reed, Cheshire Oaks and member of Young Enterprise board in Cheshire and Warrington, said: “We were delighted to host the Dragons Den at Cheshire Oaks and to support these brilliant budding entrepreneurs from across Cheshire and Warrington.  We can’t wait to see how they get on in the competition in April and wish them luck.”

For more information on Young Enterprise in Cheshire and Warrington get in touch with suzanne.lockwood@y-e.org.uk

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