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“It’s never been more important to nurture young entrepreneurs,” says clothing entrepreneur Nick Wheeler
As research points to a growing inclination among young people to set up their own businesses, some of the UK’s most forward-thinking student entrepreneurs are set to be honoured at an event in Bristol on June 6.
The SETsquared student enterprise awards will showcase the achievements of students and graduates from universities across the SETsquared partnership, as well as the mentors, champions and initiatives that have helped them thrive.
According to research, more than one in four unemployed young people would rather set up their own business than search for a job* and the number of self-employed young people has risen by 71,000 since the start of the financial crisis**.
Special guest at the awards, Nick Wheeler, founder of Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts and non-executive director of The White Company, says the role entrepreneurs have to play in the UK’s economic future must not be underestimated.
He says: “With the UK showing signs of a stagnated economy, it has never been more important to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs. Fast, flexible and lean start-ups will be the lifeblood of UK business in years to come and it is therefore vital that businesses, Government and organisations such as SETsquared work together to make it happen.”
Historically, the SETsquared student enterprise awards have acted as a barometer for emerging talent in UK business. Previous winners have included those behind the company Thoughtified, which began life as a student enterprise start up in 2011 and now turns over £300,000 a year.
The event is run by SETsquared, a partnership of the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, in order to celebrate and encourage entrepreneurialism in the UK’s next generation.
SETsquared runs a number of initiatives and events to help foster entrepreneurialism in university students, regularly teaming up with some of the UK’s biggest companies and most successful entrepreneurs to deliver workshops and training.
The most promising of student enterprise businesses it comes into contact with are brought into its business incubator programme and examples include hit accessories company, Elephant Branded, which started life as a student enterprise business and now supplies retail giants such as John Lewis.
Partnership director, Graham Harrison, said: “SETsquared is very much supporting the Government’s agenda for entrepreneurship and growth, working at the coalface to deliver training and mentoring to entrepreneurs young and old.
“What is needed for the UK to catch up with its more entrepreneurial counterparts in the USA is a cultural shift to celebrate success, self employment and risk taking. This is why events such as these awards are so important – they are pushing for that cultural shift and making entrepreneurialism something to aspire to rather than fear.”
A total of 26 students, organisations and business people have been shortlisted for the awards. The categories up for grabs on June 6 are:
* According to research by The Prince’s Trust
** ONS figures
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