The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) and Find Invest Grow (FIG) are working to address this issue with the re-launch of their business competitions aimed at revitalising and nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit of students and recent graduates.
With the economy still struggling and youth unemployment soaring above the one million mark, it’s no surprise many students are expressing intent to set up their own business. But these high levels of latent entrepreneurship are not being translated into similar numbers setting up their own business.
So what can be done to channel the enthusiasm of the UK’s youth?
Cue the launch of the second year of the RBS Enterprising Student Society Accreditation (ESSA) and RBS EnterprisingU competitions with a combined prize pot of over £101,000.
RBS ESSA aims to reward and recognise the skills involved in running a student society while RBS EnterprisingU is open to students and recent graduates, looking for investment to kick-start their innovative business ideas.
From the University of East Anglia’s Beekeeping Society through to Cambridge University’s Boat club, running a successful student society can be hard work - members raise large amounts of capital, organise an extensive calendar of events and, most importantly, attracts new recruits. RBS ESSA rewards these enterprising activities, helping students obtain a competitive edge and boost their CVs.
Last year 317 student societies– some 79,000 members – took advantage of the scheme, 21 of which scooped a share of the £55,000 prize fund. Of the winners, Warwick Finance Societies will use their £18,000 prize money to send members to Mumbai for work experience and set up a student-run investment fund for educational purposes.
“If drunken antics are all that spring to mind at the mention of the UK’s student societies, think again,” says James King, MD of FIG. “The potential from the country’s pool of university talent is astounding. Societies are turning over five to six-figure sums while creating a community of future business and society leaders. We hope to repeat the success we saw last year through our increased prize fund and attract more attention to what this demographic has to offer.”
RBS and FIG’s second competition – RBS EnterprisingU – is the UK’s largest university business plan competition, open to any student or recent graduate with the drive and ambition to succeed in business. Entries are made using FIG’s online tool, an easily accessible platform, designed to road test their idea.
Last year, of the 3,000 ideas submitted, SalesGossip, launched by a London Business School graduate, took the top spot with its online and mobile service that alerts bargain hunters to the latest high street sales.
With an increased prize fund of £101,000 and a greater number of prize categories for RBS ESSA this year, more students are set to benefit. With Moneysupermarket.com, Innocent Smoothies and even Dyson examples of highly lucrative businesses set up by students and recent graduates, who will be the next market-leading brand to take the UK by storm?
“Running these awards for the second year provides a great opportunity for us to help the UK economy benefit from the business potential of the nation’s universities and recent graduates,” states Peter Ibbetson, Small Business Chairman, Natwest and RBS. “These competitions are crucial because they help young entrepreneurs showcase their business minds and win investment to further develop their start-ups or initiatives. Last year we had a large volume of very impressive entries and look forward to reviewing an equally impressive range of exciting ideas again this year.”
Notes to Editors:
Find Invest Grow (FIG) is a venture capital firm focused on the student and recent graduate demographic. For more information visit findinvestgrow.com.
The RBS Enterprising Student Societies Accreditation (ESSA) is an accreditation scheme and associated awards that aim to recognise and reward the enterprising activities of student societies. For more information visit rbsessa.com.
RBS EnterprisingU is a UK university business plan competition open to students and recent graduates (of up to five years). For more information visit rbsenterprisingu.com.
 GEM 2011 shows Total Early-Stage entrepreneurial activity for 18-24 year olds is 6% in UK and over 9% in US.