Young Enterprise Scotland held a two-day festival of youth enterprise at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, including the national finals of its company programme for secondary school pupils.
Hampden has been the setting for some spectacular triumphs over the years: the 1991 Scottish Cup thriller when Motherwell beat Dundee United 4-3 in the final; Scotland’s 1-0 defeat of France during the 2008 European Championship qualifying campaign; and the national side’s 1-0 1974 World Cup warm-up victory over the auld enemy.
Now, Young Enterprise Scotland’s (YES’s) 2017 “Hampden takeover” can be added to that illustrious list. The national football stadium hosted the organisation’s festival of youth enterprise on 5 and 6 June, with 500 school pupils taking part in workshops, visiting stalls in the market place and meeting up with fellow young entrepreneurs from throughout the country.
Jamie Hutcheon, the founder of Aberdeen-based chocolate company Cocoa Ooze, delivered the keynote speech on the first day. He told the audience how he started his business in 2008 when he was just 17 years old.
Fifteen teams from around Scotland then returned to the stadium the following day to take part in the finals of YES’s company programme. Each team had already won their regional heat and came together to go head-to-head for the national title.
Companies taking part in the finals ranged from Beltane Candles of Currie Community High School in Edinburgh through to Fancie Tins of Brae High School on Shetland. Three firms created books aimed at children and young people, while Graphic Outlook from Marr College in Troon teamed up with local manufacturer Begg of Ayr to produce school scarves and Sustainable Environmental Ecosystem Delivery (Seed), from Inverurie Academy, partnered with the Woodland Trust Scotland to offer carbon-offsetting packages.
Twelve judges – including Peter Ranscombe, editor of BQ Scotland magazine, which was the media partner for the event – reviewed the company reports and then interviewed directors from the businesses. Each firm then gave a presentation and showed the judges around the trade stands they had created in the market place.
The winners were announced during a gala dinner at the stadium, which was hosted by Rachel McTavish, an STV News presenter and entrepreneur in her own right, having launched her own range of jewellery, the McTavish Collection, in 2008.
She was joined on stage by Mark Armstrong, YES’s schools programme manager, while YES chief executive Geoff Leask delivered the closing remarks.
The young entrepreneurs who had gathered for the dinner were also treated to an inspirational speech by Sylvia Douglas, founder of Glasgow-based social enterprise Ms Miss Mrs, which empowers women. Douglas’s organisation is best known for selling its “empowerment pants” but also runs self-development programmes and a hub.
Vision, a company set up by pupils at Fortrose Academy on the Black Isle, north of Inverness, was the big winner on the night, scooping four prizes. The team carried off the Barclays company of the year title, along with the Kaplan best company report prize, the Lyreco best trade stand trophy and the Marketing Society award.
Bon-Bon, based at Lochend Community High School in Glasgow, scooped a brace of prizes, taking home the EY best presentation award and the Disney creativity prize, which was presented by Michael Mercieca, chief executive of the UK-wide Young Enterprise organisation. Handmade Hamilton from Hamilton Grammar School triumphed in the Peroosh people’s choice category, securing the highest number of votes gathered through the YES website.
Looking ahead to the next 12 months, 2018 marks Scotland’s “Year of Young People” and so Leask and his team are keen to extend a festival of youth enterprise throughout the country. “We had 500 school pupils pass through Hampden over the course of the two days, but next year it would be amazing to run youth enterprise events around Scotland on the same day so we can reach even more people,” he explains.
“More than 2,000 pupils have taken part in our company programme over the past year, which is a tremendous number. Each of those young people has been given a taste of what it’s like to run their own company and have learned skills that will help them no matter which career they pursue.
“We want to give even more youngsters the chance to share in that experience and the festival of youth enterprise is a great way of spreading the word and inspiring not just young people but also their teachers and the 500-plus other volunteers who help us to deliver such an amazing experience throughout the country.”
Leask adds: “Our judges had a really hard job picking the winners this year. They told me how inspiring it was to hear the stories from the young entrepreneurs and to see all the hard work they had put into their company reports, presentations and trade stalls.
“The standard of the products and services being offered by pupils taking part in our company programme just keeps getting higher year after year. I can’t wait to see what our young people will come up with during 2018 as we celebrate Scotland’s Year of Young People.”
As well as celebrating the achievements of the young people honoured on the night, guests at the gala dinner were treated to music by jazz duo Joe Williamson and Luca Manning. They were also wowed by a mini fashion show featuring outfits and accessories created by Junk Kouture Scotland, which reuses and recycles materials to create its clothing.
Find out more about Young Enterprise Scotland and its programmes at www.yes.org.uk