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Inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurial talent

HRH The Duke of York, KG and Nominet Trust launch new Digital Enterprise Award

Today, at Buckingham Palace The Duke of York and Nominet Trust launched iDEA – a new inspiring Digital Enterprise Award scheme that will support young people to gain the critical digital and entrepreneurial skills they need to set up and run their own business venture.

Young people in the UK display significant entrepreneurial ambition. Indeed, a recent report from Unltd revealed that more than 55% of those aged 16-25 want to set up their own business and 14% are now in the process of doing so, compared with 8% only a year ago.

Despite this, a new YouGov survey, commissioned by Nominet Trust, has found that nearly two thirds (64%) of the 1,000 16-25 year olds interviewed, feel that formal education doesn’t go far enough to help young people interested in entrepreneurship.

In order to service this generation better and boost young enterprise among 16-25 year olds, iDEA has been designed to support young people interested in setting up a new business venture. The Digital Enterprise Award will facilitate the lean, bootstrapping style of entrepreneurship preferred by young people, enabling them to build digital prototypes and test the viability of their business idea with prospective customers.

iDEA is a three-stage programme with young people receiving industry-recognised digital Open Badges that reward the range of entrepreneurial skills and competencies they will develop along the way. In its 2014 pilot, iDEA will support 1,000 young entrepreneurs and invest £150,000 in seed funding.

The YouGov research also revealed that half of respondents thought that they wouldn’t find it easy to gain access to a business mentor (55%), i.e. someone who can bring skills, knowledge and experience, if they were looking to set up and run their own business. Of these, 83% said this lack of advice and guidance would make starting their business more difficult.

Mentorship and one-to-one support will play a key role in the iDEA programme.  The programme will connect young people to a pool of expert business mentors and partners to support the development of their idea.

Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust, the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder, said: “Digital technology has fundamentally changed the nature of entrepreneurship, opening up new opportunities for young people to create businesses. However, much of the support currently available to young entrepreneurs is desperately out of sync with their needs. For example, in today’s climate, many young people are reticent about taking out a loan, preferring to ‘bootstrap’ their way through the initial stages of their business. From working with young people, it is clear that they are looking for small scale support that allows agile and iterative development, building and testing prototypes before going to market.

“In partnership with our Patron The Duke of York, Nominet Trust has created iDEA to support the UK’s next generation of digital entrepreneurs. iDEA is itself adopting an agile and iterative approach, working with partners to test out and evaluate the best ways to nurture young people’s digital skills and business ideas in order to provide a dynamic programme that responds to the needs of young entrepreneurs.”

will.i.am, iDEA Steering Committee member, commented: “It is an honour to join The Duke of York, Nominet Trust and fellow Steering Committee members to provide support and encouragement to young people across the UK.  Today, digital skills incorporating computing, coding and marketing are a baseline requirement to succeed in almost every career path.  Whether a young person aspires to be a fashion designer, a doctor, a solar engineer, or a musician, digital and entrepreneurial skills are essential to success.”

Supported by successful entrepreneurs including Michael Acton Smith, Lily Cole and Nick D’Aloisio, iDEA will encourage young people to follow their passion and give them the confidence to start up a business venture.

Michael Acton-Smith, founder of Mind Candy said: “iDEA is exactly the type of scheme that could have helped me as a teenager. I hope it can inspire and embolden a new generation of British tech entrepreneurs, and I am delighted to be supporting The Duke of York in it."

Lily Cole, model and entrepreneur said: "Through working on Impossible.com for the last few years, I have really come to recognise the value of digital entrepreneurship, and the possibilities that digital literacy could open up for both young people with big ideas, but also for the wider community through the effects of those ideas when realised. I've also seen how challenging the process of entrepreneurship can be, and so I recognise how valuable support systems are for fostering creativity in this space. I'm thereby very happy to support iDEA, which is seeking to encourage and develop young people who are interested in digital entrepreneurship."

 Nick D’Aloisio, founder of Summly, adds: “You don’t have to look far to see how popular programming is becoming with young people around the world. Anyone with an Internet connection and a microprocessor can teach themselves the necessary skills and technique. But it’s not just learning how to code that matters.

What young people need above all is the support and advice that can get them into the mindset of becoming an entrepreneur. That’s what doesn’t get widely taught.

And it’s why The Duke of York’s iDEA scheme is so important: it is about not just how to do things but what you can do with them. It can inspire young people to fulfill their potential and create the businesses of the future.”

During the pilot, iDEA will incubate and mentor 1,000 budding young entrepreneurs with a new digital business idea. The 20 most promising ideas will go on to receive a £5,000 grant, mentor support and a business placement before three finalists are selected to receive the 2014 iDEA Award, which comes with £15,000 of seed funding.

The Duke of York and Nominet Trust are working in partnership with DigitalMe to create the digital Open Badges that will recognise the achievements gained by young people through the iDEA Award.

The programme will be delivered by a number of formal and informal learning organisations, including: Free:Formers, Young Rewired State, Keyfund, CoderDojo, The Prince’s Trust, Hackney Community College, Gazelle Colleges and The Studio Schools Trust, as it seeks to build long-term capacity and growth across the UK’s digital economy. Over the next five years, iDEA aims to support one million young people across the UK to improve their digital skills, develop digital business concepts and start up their own business ventures.

To find out more about the iDEA programme, please go to: www.onemillionyoungideas.org.uk.

- ENDS-

Editors Notes:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,007 respondents aged 16-25. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th - 10th March 2014. The survey was carried out online.