New Scheme to Inspire Young Entrepreneurs to Start Their own Businesses

The Duke of York, continuing his laudable efforts to encourage the entrepreneurial youth of Britain and following hot on the heels of his pitch@palace initiative, has teamed up with the Nominet Trust to launch a new scheme. Called "The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award Scheme" or iDEA for short, its aim over the next five years is to support more than a million young people, aged between 16 and 25, by helping them develop their own digital skills and ultimately successful businesses.

The Scheme in a Nutshell

The scheme is divided into three stages:

The Discovery stage: where thousand entrants will get the chance to earn a Discovery badge; the candidates will need to demonstrate their digital skills and use them to explain the importance of their idea and why they believe it could be a valuable business.

The Beta stage: Those who meet the criteria of the first part of the process will progress to the Beta stage. At this point "100 teams will be formed and young people will need to work together to test, refine and enhance their chosen business idea taking it from concept to prototype."

The Live stage: will take "the 20 projects with the most promise [who] will go forward to earn their Live badge. Each team will be given £5,000 to turn their prototypes into a real-life product to send out into the world."

As well gaining valuable financial assistance, the teams will also benefit from mentor support and a business placement. In October 2014, the twenty teams will pitch their business idea to an expert panel of judges. Three winners will be chosen to receive the 2014 iDEA Award and £15,000 to help develop their ideas into "a successful digital business start-up."

Digital Skills that Match the Needs of Today’s Businesses

Prince Andrew, acting as patron of the scheme, said: "What we are seeking to achieve is giving young people the opportunity to gain digital skills. But gaining digital skills in such a way that they are combined in educational terms with business. So this is about combining education in its purest sense, and also business in its purest sense. But applying the digital technology that is now available and will become available."

Those who have registered a .uk domain name will be familiar with Nominet UK; the Nominet Trust, set up in 2008, is a charitable offshoot. According to their website, the Nominet Trust "is the UK's largest social tech fund, bringing together, investing in and supporting people make imaginative use of technology to address complex social issues."

Young Entrepreneurs Don’t get the Support They Need

Chief executive of the Trust, Annika Small, believes that although the advent of digital technology has had the distinct benefit of creating many new business opportunities for young people, there remains a problem that "much of the support currently available to young entrepreneurs is desperately out of sync with their needs.”

Her views are backed up by a recent survey by Populus for Unltd. According to the findings, 55% of young people want to set up a business of their own. However, only 14% end up doing so. 

In her experience, many young people would prefer to "bootstrap" through the first stages of setting up a business rather than take out a loan. “From working with young people, it is clear they are looking for small-scale support that allows agile and iterative development, building and testing prototypes before going to market,” she said.

It is hoped that the scheme will successfully address these issues and enable youngsters in the UK to build businesses that can help drive the British economy in the future. Initially, a small-scale version of iDEA will operate during 2014, with the goal of helping a thousand young people. There is also £150,000 of seed funding on offer to teams with the best ideas.

Photo By World Economic Forum [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons