Students impress the judges of Suffolk Young Enterprise contest

The Wick & Wax Company team from Woodbridge School at the final of the 2016 Suffolk Young Enterprise

The Wick & Wax Company team from Woodbridge School at the final of the 2016 Suffolk Young Enterprise competition. - Credit: Archant

Twelve teams of budding entrepreneurs from across the county took part in the final of the 2016 Suffolk Young Enterprise competition.

Last week’s event was the culmination of months of work by students from secondary schools and colleges around Suffolk, involving the development of a product or service, marketing and selling it through a “mini business” and then producing a financial report including a profit and loss account and a balance sheet.

A total of 17 teams entered the contest this year, with 12 making if through to the final, which was staged at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) in Ipswich and involved the students putting on a trade stand display and making a PowerPoint presentation.

The judges scored each team on the basis of their reports, their presentations and interviews conducted with the students at their trade stands, with awards given for the best in each of the three areas in addition to trophies for the overall winner and runner-up. The teams which made it through to the final were:

:: IT, East Bergholt High School: a range of products based on a theme of taking time to share and celebrate with others.

:: EqualiTea, Ipswich School: gift sets including mugs and a variety of tea/hot chocolate packs.

:: Strive, Thurston Community College: individually designed “Jars of Joy” made by reusing empty glass jars.

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:: The Wick & Wax Company, Woodbride School: environmentally-friendly scented candles made from soy wax and natural scent.

:: Doodle, East Bergholt High School: stationery to support students with their studies and refreshments at after school events.

:: Daisy Chain, Ipswich High School for Girls: handmade textile pictures made to order.

:: Ethereal, Alde Valley Academy, Leiston: Asian-style sweets and noodles.

:: Memo-it, Debenham High School: dry wipeable memo boards featuring bespoke designs and available with individual company logos.

:: PegIT, Newmarket Acadamy: fridge magnets, mobile holders, stationery containers and much more, all based on wooden clothes pegs.

:: BlueHorizon, West Suffolk College: individually designed and hand painted t-shirts, working with corporate customers.

:: Second Klass, Mildenhall Academy: redesigning second hand uniforms to create innovative fashion items.

:: Eclipse, Thomas Mills High School, Framlingham: recylcing old school jumpers to produce new fashionable shopping bags to order.

The award for overall winner (supported by EDF Energy, the main funding partner for the competition) went to The Wick & Wax Company from Woodbridge School. As winner, the team will also receive free stand space at the Suffolk Show, by courtesy of the Suffolk Agricultural Association.

The runner-up award (supported by the Port of Felixstowe) went to Memo-it from Debenham High School which also won the award for best PowerPoint prsentation (supported by BT).

Eclipse from Thomas Mills High School received the award for best company report (supported by Associated British Ports) and the best trade stand award (supported by Adnams) went to EqualiTea from Ipswich School.

The judging criteria covered 12 specific aspects of running a business and prizes were also awarded for each of these.

The judges for the competition included Nicola Corbett, Sizewell C communications officer at EDF Energy and a member of the Suffolk Young Enterprise board, Jonathan Legh-Smith, head of partnerships and strategic research with BT at Adastral Park, Martlesham Heath, Lauren Singleton, HR manager, service centre at the Port of Felixstowe, Dr Daba Chowdhury, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship and marketing at UCS, Ipswich, and Siobhan Eke, project manager at Adnams, with Eddy Alcock, chairman of the Suffolk Young Enterprise board acting as non-voting chairman of the panel.

Speaking to the teams following the announcement of the results, Mr Alcock said: “If you haven’t won anything or haven’t won what you had hoped for, don’t be too disappointed, because you’ve gained something more valuable than an award.

“Taking part in Young Enterprise will have improved your future prospects in the ‘world of work’ because many employers look for that experience in your CVs when seeking employees and might well value you above your non-Young Enterprise peers.”

Pat Trimmer, newly appointed this year as manager for Suffolk Young Enterprise, said: “It has been an interesting year getting to know the schools and students who are now my first priority. I was delighted, at this year’s competition, to witness the way in which they have matured during the year and developed their knowledge of the way that business works.

“I am really looking forward to getting to know more people in more schools next year and helping these young people prepare themselves to enter the ‘world of work’ through ‘learning by doing’, which is what the Young Enterprise Company Programme is all about.”

Nicola Corbett of EDF Energy added: “EDF Energy was delighted to be able to support the Suffolk Young Enterprise competition and awards once again.

“In my third year as a judge, I was as last year, impressed by the creativity and range of skills required to complete this process and recognise the benefits the students gain from their Young Enterprise journey. This experience will be invaluable as they interact with the business sector on their chosen career paths.”

As overall winner for Suffolk, the team from Woodbridge School wil go forward to compete in a regional event taking place in Cambridge in June and, potentially, the national final in July and a European event in August.

In keeping with the theme of the competition, photography students from Suffolk New College were invited to get some “real life” work experience by taking photographs at the event. Four students, Rosie Bragg, Bradley Dedman, Ashleigh Bolton and Michael De Vries volunteered for the task and some of their photographs accompany this report.