Belfast Telegraph

Pupils score with new football boot: Able to take on likes of Richard Branson and Lord Sugar

Young entrepreneurs go head-to-head with unique business ideas

A band of entrepreneurs from schools across Northern Ireland have proved they're able to take on the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Lord Sugar and James Dyson after playing their part in a global business initiative.

Over 1,300 pupils from 40 schools here took up the challenge of Global Entrepreneurship Week in autumn 2013 to develop a business idea from concept through to branding, finance and planning. The pupils came up with ingenious ideas ranging from home security systems to skateboards.

Organised through Invest Northern Ireland's Step 'N' Zones competition, the top prize – revealed just last week – was won by St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena, with their plan to give football boots a new lease of life.

The team of Charlie Henry and James Logan designed boots with deployable studs – a feature which allows them to be used on any surface.

"I'm a sporty person and when I'm Gaelic training we have to change from our boots to our trainers and we got thinking about how it could be easier," Charlie said.

"That's how we came up with the idea of having just one pair."

They took home £100 each, as well as £1,000 for their school, in an awards ceremony at Invest NI's headquarters where chief executive Alastair Hamilton presented the prizes.

"Entrepreneurship is vital to the future of our economy so it is important that we inspire our young people, and provide them with the knowledge and confidence they need to pursue their ambition," he said. "The Step 'N' Zones competition is a great way to introduce young people to the idea of entrepreneurship."

Rathfriland High School took second prize with their idea LOCK – a home security system that can be connected to an app and used on any smart phone.

Lumen Christi College, Londonderry, were runners up in the competition with their idea Ye Olde Cafe – a mobile cafe van selling luxury products at major public events.

Sharon Polson, the regional business manager at Invest NI, said encouraging youth entrepreneurship is crucial.

"If we are to develop our economy then young people are of utmost importance," she said. "We're involved in a number of initiatives to try and instill in young people that they need to think about entrepreuership, to think about enterprise and to think about how they might take entrepreneurship forward in the future."

Belfast Telegraph