Budding UK technology entrepreneurs can realise their business ideas through a new Royal Academy of Engineering award aimed at 16 to 25 year olds, which offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be mentored by technology heroes.
The winner of the new Launchpad competition will receive the most valuable UK award for young entrepreneurs in the technology sector – the JC Gammon Award – which is designed to help cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs by encouraging young people to think commercially early on in their careers.
The winner will become a member of the Academy’s Enterprise Hub, an initiative that sees some of the UK’s leading technology entrepreneurs pledge their time to mentor the country’s most promising start-ups and SMEs. More than 100 volunteer mentors, who are Fellows of the Academy, have pledged their time to the Hub including well-known names such as Dr Mike Lynch FREng, Co-Founder of Autonomy and Founder of Invoke, and Sir Robin Saxby FREng, former Founding Chief Executive and Chairman of ARM.
As well as mentoring and training, joining the Hub and utilising the networks of the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering will give the winner of Launchpad the opportunity to make a lifetime’s worth of high value business connections. The winner will also receive £15,000 to help catalyse their start-up business.
Within the first year of launching their business, the Academy will also invite the winner to pitch to a number of leading UK business angels and angel groups, with a view to securing further interest and investment.
“Age is irrelevant to coming up with good business ideas, and it’s vital that we help young, talented engineers to develop their entrepreneurial skills in order to take their great ideas to market,” said leading angel investor David Gammon, the primary benefactor of the award. “We want to encourage all of the participants, not just the overall winner, to think big and realise their entrepreneurial potential.”
The competition opens for entries today, welcoming applications from any start-up company or individual with intent to form a company, with technology business ideas based on original IP or the innovative application of technology. Eligible disciplines can range from classical engineering such as mechanical, chemical, civil and biological, to mathematics, robotic, design, information technologies, and everything in between.
“The Launchpad competition has been established to encourage this country’s talented young engineers to think beyond product development and consider how their innovations might be developed into a fully-fledged, vibrant businesses. This is incredibly important to the continued growth of the UK engineering sector,” said Arnoud Jullens, Head of Enterprise at the Royal Academy of Engineering. “The future success of the UK’s economy is dependent on investment in innovation today, and developing relevant skills in the next generation of technology entrepreneurs. This is something the Academy is actively supporting through its Engineering for Growth campaign.”
Jullens continued, “With the breadth of engineering disciplines recognised by the Academy and the unmatched network of technology contacts it represents, we can provide the perfect platform to support young entrepreneurs and give them the best possible chance of success.”
The deadline for entries is Monday 30 June 2014, and the winner will be chosen by a panel of highly experienced engineering entrepreneurs, including Ian Shott CBE FREng, Chair of the Academy’s Enterprise Committee and Managing Partner at investment and advisory firm Shott Trinova LLP; David Gammon; Roy Merritt, Founder and Partner at private equity firm Oakfield Capital Partners; Elspeth Finch, Director at Atkins; and Glenn Manoff, Group Head of Corporate Affairs at Camelot.