At the event staged at Ulster Bank’s Entrepreneurial Spark Hatchery in Belfast, video pitches created by the QuickStart companies were played to a panel of business experts. Students from St Ronan’s College Lurgan, St Patrick’s College Banbridge, Lismore Comprehensive School, The High School Ballynahinch, and St Colm’s High School attended the event. Belfast Hospital School and Belfast Model School for Girls also entered the competition.
The Hatchery, powered by Ulster Bank, opened in Lombard Street, Belfast in March. The exciting new space can play host to 80 businesses and early stage entrepreneurs. It is part of a major international movement to encourage and support start-up and scale-up businesses. With a number of locations around the UK, Entrepreneurial Spark is the world’s largest free business accelerator for early stage and growing ventures. Ulster Bank, along with RBS and NatWest, has partnered with Entrepreneurial Spark to bring its first Hatchery to Northern Ireland, giving local entrepreneurs the necessary resources to grow their ideas.
Students heard from Apprentice finalist Jim Eastwood, who talked about the importance of cultivating entrepreneurship skills from a young age, and sharing knowledge and ideas with other entrepreneurs.
He said “I have been so impressed and inspired by the young people I have met today – not only in terms of the hard work and enthusiasm they have put into starting their businesses, but also by their outstanding business acumen and commercial awareness. I have been working closely with Young Enterprise as an Ambassador for a number of years now and, time and time again, I have witnessed the hugely positive impact this amazing charity has on the lives of young people across Northern Ireland in equipping with the knowledge and skills to succeed and shine in the world of business.”
QuickStart students heard three live pitches from Ulster Bank Entrepreneurial Spark chiclets that are currently on the scheme developing their own businesses. Becca Hume from e+press pitched her app designed to allow those with speech, hearing and breathing problems to contact the Emergency Services. Niall Carlin spoke about Double Jump Studios, a brand new motion graphics and video production company based in Northern Ireland. The third chiclet was Lidia Zielinska, creator of ZieLi Fitness with a difference, which is a wellbeing support group and workshops designed to transform your relationships with food, weight and exercise. Young Enterprise alumnus Reuben McFeeters, owner of watch company Way North, also spoke at the event. He is a chiclet in the Hatchery and is currently using the opportunity to develop his business further by expanding his product range.
Congratulations to File it from Banbridge Academy, with an impressive video pitch, who collected old files from around the school and upcycled them with different designs to re-sell.
Sean Murphy, Regional Manging Director, Branch and Private Banking at Ulster Bank, said: “As a bank, we’ve been really pleased to support Young Enterprise and the Quickstart Programme for a fifth year. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to help young people understand how business works and encourage entrepreneurship. The energy and enthusiasm of all the participants is infectious and it is great to see such quality presentations from all of the finalists.”
Carol Fitzsimons, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise commented, “The support of Ulster Bank has been vital to the work of the charity, and we are delighted to have been able to engage new community groups on to the programme this year as a result of the support of the Skills & Opportunity Fund. Having the young people experience the Entrepreneurial Spark Hatchery has been fantastic in showing them the ecosystem that exists for potential entrepreneurs across N Ireland.”
Young Enterprise Northern Ireland is part funded by the Department of Education with support from the business sector. For more information about Young Enterprise and to see how you can support and get involved visit yeni.co.uk
Main Image: Runner Up QuickStart company from St Ronan’s College Lurgan, pictured with (L-R) Andy Mills (Ulster Bank), St Ronan’s College teacher, Joanne Mallon (Young Enterprise NI), Jim Eastwood (Groupon), Jill Smyth (Ulster Bank) and Carol Fitzsimons (Young Enterprise NI).
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