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Next generation of entrepreneurs recognised with prestigious awards

Team Synergy - winners of the Young Enterprise East Midlands Company of the Year Awards 2015.

Loughborough University celebrated emerging entrepreneurial talent at the Finals of the Young Enterprise East Midlands Company of the Year Awards 2015.

The competition was hosted by the University in partnership with Young Enterprise – a national education charity dedicated to inspiring young people to succeed through enterprise.

The Leicestershire County Final, which took place on 22 April, saw Gray Street Co., run by pupils from Our Lady’s Convent School in Loughborough, emerge as the winner (pictured above). Their company identified the need for a product to promote healthy eating to parents and young children, so they came up with an interactive placemat called Foodle, which carried nutritional guidelines for parents in order to help them plan well balanced meals for their children. On the reverse side of the placemat, there were fun, educational activities to keep children engaged.

The team progressed to the East Midlands Regional Final on 6 May, which was won overall by Synergy, operated by a team of pupils from The Priory Academy LSST in Lincoln. The company created pocket guidebooks for parents written by teenagers, about understanding teenagers, and as of April 2015, they had sold more than 380 copies. Loughborough Design School graduate Ross Kemp, Founder of Asap water crafts, shared his experience of launching his lifesaving solo craft in The Studio – Loughborough’s incubation hub – and judged and presented the Innovation Award.

Team Synergy will now attend the UK Final in London on Thursday 2 July.

Tilly Wilks, Managing Director of Synergy, said: “The 12 timid teens that sat in our first meeting are unrecognisable from the confident, enthusiastic, brand-embracing business people that we have become. Young Enterprise has taught us that the more time we invest in our brand; the more people will invest in us. We are so excited to represent the region at the nationals in July. Thank you to everyone who made the event possible, especially Loughborough University.”

The annual competition encouraged young people to set up and run a real company for one year under the guidance of an adviser from the business community. This included everything from opening a business bank account, to designing and manufacturing, selling directly to customers and paying taxes, among other duties.

Professor Steve Rothberg, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise) at Loughborough University, who opened the Regional Final on campus, said: “We were delighted to host the County and Regional Finals of this competition which is a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn, grow and develop outside of the classroom. It was a pleasure to witness such inspiring entrepreneurial spirit and all the finalists should be proud of what they have achieved.”