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Enterprising young people win gold medal in South East competition

17 December 2009

A group of young people from Battle, East Sussex took the top prize of £5,000 in the first South East Reaching for Gold competition, supported by the South East England Development Agency and nine top global companies.

The gold medal winners, known as the Young Pioneers, building on their own personal experiences, have developed a franchisable leadership course that can be delivered by young people to their peers. The team plans to conduct a roadshow to share their leadership course across Europe, travelling with their specially-equipped trailer. The team is also developing a longer residential course, offering free places.

Over the last few months the Young Pioneers have been supported by their mentors from BT and the charity Groundwork, to develop and commercialise their ideas. The judges were highly impressed with their professionalism and presentational skills, as well as their ambitious plans to internationalise their product.

Team leader Luke Lancaster, age 14, said: “We are enabling young people to lead change.” The group received a trophy and £5,000 to help them develop their project.

The silver medal winners were from Brockenhurst College, who had developed a bike recycling and training project with links to the Zambia, and were mentored by Sony and Groundwork. This project will create two job opportunities for disadvantaged young people in the South East.

The bronze medallists were pupils from Milton Cross School in Portsmouth with their idea to fit mini turbines onto water pipes to generate low-level power gains every time the tap is turned on. As well as receiving mentoring from Huawei Technologies and the Prince's Trust, Milton Cross are also being supported by Southampton University and Portsmouth Water Company.

The competition was held at St. George’s House, Windsor Castle where the nine finalists gathered for a Dragon’s Den-style pitch presentation. In addition to the top three entries, the finalists came from South East colleges, schools and youth groups in Brighton, Chatham, Camberley, Slough and Tonbridge.

The nine finalist groups had been intensively mentored by managers from one of nine major global companies and by community leaders, helping them prepare for the final. The groups were shortlisted from over 60 entries.

Businesswoman Nicola Horlick was joined by Paralympic champion Danny Crates to help select the most innovative social enterprise project. The judging panel also included Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Chief Executive Ian Trenholm and SEEDA Director for Culture and Communities Keren Jones.

Keren Jones said: ”SEEDA is committed to helping business to prosper; the heart of economic recovery is innovation, creating new products and services that are relevant globally. Reaching for Gold is about people coming together from across organisations and cultures in a mix of collaboration and competition. It builds partnership between businesses and young people to develop social enterprise and help economic benefit for the region.

“Although there could only be one winner, each of the nine groups of young people who presented their projects to our Reaching for Gold panel are all winners. We are very grateful to our judging panel and to the major companies and organisations on this groundbreaking project.”

Reaching for Gold challenges South East young people aged 14-19 to develop ideas that will make a difference to their local communities on the themes of Youth, Community or Disability. All projects must include some international collaboration.

The competition is part of a unique collaboration between SEEDA and nine corporate business partners and voluntary and community sector organisations - known as the South East Corporate Cabinet - which works to support the future of the South East’s economy.

Reaching for Gold is supported by BT, CISCO, Honda UK, Huawei Technologies, Intel Corporation, Legal and General, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sony, and Toshiba Information Systems. Groundwork, The Prince’s Trust and AbilityNet are partners from the voluntary and community sector.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Scott Swinton, Media Relations Manager, SEEDA
Tel: 01483 501362

View the full media release here.

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