Suffolk: School and college teams battle for Young Enterprise honours

The winning team from Debenham High School, YouNG, at their trade stand during the judging of the Su

The winning team from Debenham High School, YouNG, at their trade stand during the judging of the Suffolk Young Enterprise Business Awards - Credit: Archant

BT’s Adastral Park was the venue for the judging of this year’s Suffolk Young Enterprise awards, which challenge school and college pupils to team up and try their hand at running their own businesses. As business editor DUNCAN BRODIE reports, the honours were widely shared.

TWELVE teams of students from schools and college across the county competed in this year’s Suffolk Young Enterprise Business Awards.

The event, hosted by BT at Adastral Park, Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, was the culmination of the Young Enterprise Company Programme in Suffolk, under which students create and run their own businesses, with support of a business adviser.

Besides creating a product or service and marketing and selling it in a “real world” environment, teams are required to produced financial reports, including a profit and loss account and a balance sheet.

The 12 participants in the final judging came from a total of 19 teams which registered this year, an increase of around 50% on last year’s entry.

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A major factor behind the increase was a £10,000 grant from Suffolk County Council that enabled a the participation fee to be subsidised substantially, so helping to relieve pressure on schools’ budgets.

Teams taking part represented Debenham High School, East Bergholt High School, Farlingaye High School, Ipswich Academy, Kesgrave High School, Otley College, St Joseph’s College, Thomas Mills High School, West Suffolk College (three entries) and Woodbridge School.

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Overall winner and runner-up awards were made, determined by three separate judgements including the teams’ company reports, visits to the teams’ trade stands during the afternoon of the event and presentations by the teams to the judges and guests during the evening.

The team from Debenham High School, You N G, claimed the overall award by winning both the trade stand and presentation sections. New Leaf, from Woodbridge School, was named runner-up, having won the company report section.

The judges also selected winners under 10 other specific criteria identified by the national Young Enterprise body as being critical in business.

In addition, the Suffolk competition included an award for the “greenest” company and, for the first time, there was also a presentation to the best business adviser, selected by the participating students.

The five judges for the competition were Cliff Matthews, board member and regional manager for SITA UK, which is building, and will operate, the Suffolk Energy from Waste plant at Great Blakenham, near Ipswich; Sadie Lofthouse, head of human resources at Adnams; Stewart Bethell, sustainable transport development officer for the Port of Felixstowe; Sue Partington, curriculum centre head for business, leisure and information technology at Suffolk New College; and Dr Tony Houghton, board member and educational development director at the Cambridge Centre for Innovation in Technological Education.

Suffolk county councillor Eddy Alcock, chairman of the Suffolk Young Enterprise board, acted as non-voting chairman of the panel, with fellow board member Richard Love shadowing the judges and compiling feedback to sent to the schools following the event.

During the afternoon, the 140 students taking part had the opportunity to receive conducted tours of the Customer Showcase exhibition at Adastral Park, where they enjoyed glimpses of future technologies, including superfast broadband, networked devices for energy management and control; remote access to home security systems and remote control over individual home devices.

Later, during the judges’ final deliberations, programme director Ian Buxton, on behalf of Tim Whitley, managing director at Adastral Park, addressed the audience of nearly 250 students and their supporters about activities at Adastral Park and the employment opportunities potentially available to school leavers.

Announcing the results, Mr Alcock, thanked all those who had contributed to the success of the event, including the funding partners whose input covered the cost of refreshments for the students and their supporters as well as the awards themselves, the judges for giving their time, BT for hosting the event and photographer Reg More for donating his service free of charge.

Mr Alcock told the participants: “If you haven’t won anything or haven’t won what you had hoped for, don’t be disappointed because you have gained something more valuable than any award.

“Taking part in Young Enterprise will have improved your future prospects in the world of work because many employers look for that experience when seeking employees and may well value you above others.”

In the conclusions within their company report, the students from Debenham High School’s winning team said: “We believe that we have achieved a lot in our time as a Young Enterprise Company.

“We have learned about the technicalities of running a business; but foremost; we have learnt valuable life skills including: How to present ourselves professionally; valuable listening and co-operation skills and finally; how important planning and organisation is to running a business of any kind.

“Throughout the running of Young Enterprise we have learnt huge amounts about the business world, and have learnt skills that will last a lifetime.”

Ian Buxton of BT said: “We were delighted to host the 2013 awards at Adastral Park and it was inspiring to see so many talented young people putting their business acumen into practice.”

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