Sir Tom praises all the contestants
Young entrepreneurs from Marr College and Girvan Academy had the opportunity of a lifetime as they took part in the Sir Tom Hunter Challenge.
Teams of budding business gurus from schools in East, North and South Ayrshire competed at the finals held in Ayr, for a whopping top prize of £5,000.
The tension mounted as each of the teams presented their innovative business ideas to Sir Tom and a panel of expert judges who then asked some probing questions.
Marr College in Troon was represented by three 14 year old entrepreneurs who revealed their idea…SlrPlex! This innovative flexible plastic converts solar energy into electricity; the secret is its versatility as it can be used to charge anything from car batteries to phones and GPS systems.
Josh Murchie (Managing Director) Robert Hervey (Finance Director) and Andrew Baird (Operations Director) feel their product could prove vital in disaster zones because it's incredibly lightweight, durable, has wide functionality and is extremely easy to use.
The judges were impressed with the range of uses for this dynamic little product and how it could be used in third world countries. They also liked the business plan and how the group would fund their venture. The team scooped a total of £2,500 to develop their idea.
Team member Josh said: "This was a huge learning curve for us. We wanted to develop a concept product that had the potential to change lives. To receive praise from Sir Tom Hunter saying we were 'ahead of our time' inspires us to keep going."
A team of six from Girvan Academy developed an innovative device for listening to music called the LIMPOD. With built in Bluetooth technology, these clever little pods attach to glasses, allowing vibrations to be picked up through bones in the ear which are then processed into sound by the brain.
Judges were impressed with the technology as well as the prototype and the group performed well during the presentation.
General Managers Zakariah Jenkins (14) and Harry Flower (15) were ably assisted by Daniel Conlan (14) Adam McCulloch (15) Stewart Strain (14) and Josiah Agbi (15). The team carried out product testing and feel LIMPOD has many uses even extending to helping people suffering from hearing loss.
The team from Girvan also received a total of £2,500 to help take their product to the next level.
Zakariah and Harry said "We had a good night even though we didn't win, it was a great experience for us and we enjoyed presenting to the team of experienced entrepreneurs – nerve-racking but good fun!"
The overall winners were Loudoun Academy who came up with the fantastic idea of turning photos of people into plastic models. These miniature representations could be used on wedding cakes.
Sir Tom Hunter, entrepreneur and philanthropist said:" "Ayrshire's young people have again stepped up to the mark creating business ideas that any entrepreneur would be proud of and I congratulate them all…We need to redouble our efforts to engage all young people in the world of work and educate them for a world that is changing at an unparalleled pace – teachers can't bear all the burden of this, business must play its role and I'd recommend all Ayrshire businesses sign up to Founders4Schools to do just that."
Councillor William Grant, Lifelong Learning Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council said "Well done to all the young people that took part in this superb challenge. I would like to thank Sir Tom Hunter, his fellow judges, the organisers and of course the teachers for giving the youngsters this amazing opportunity.
"Meeting Sir Tom and learning from the experts has been an inspiration and I am sure all our young entrepreneurs will take their new found knowledge and put it to good use in the future. Writing business plans, managing finances, developing communication techniques, are all transferrable skills which are invaluable.
"Going forward, I hope we have many more of these types of activities which take learning beyond the classroom. They build confidence, motivate and best of all inspire."
Sir Tom has invited all the teams taking part to attend a workshop to develop their ideas with help from an expert.
The Sir Tom Hunter Challenge promotes entrepreneurship and economic awareness in young people. As well as fitting in with the school curriculum, the challenge promotes the development of key skills in communication and teamwork.