Duke of York reveals UK’s finest young digital entrepreneurs

Britain’s talented young entrepreneurs showcased their digital startup ideas today at the final of the 2015 inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA), hosted by The Duke of York.

Following a 7-month journey, ten 14-25 year old teams pitched for a chance to win crucial financial and business support for their ventures. The budding founders faced a panel of industry judges hosted at Salesforce Tower, including Ian Livingstone (Co-Founder, Games Workshop), Annika Small (CEO, Nominet Trust), Sherry Coutu (Entrepreneur, Non-Exec Director, Investor and Advisor) Helen Smyth (SMB Manager EMEA, Facebook) and Eileen Burbidge (Partner, Passion Capital).

The three winning start-up’s that include Learner Lane, a platform to help parents and students find a local tutor, Candle Path, an app to plot the safest route home, and Yoma Education, a virtual teaching assistant for autistic children to learn alongside their peers, were later revealed at a prize-giving ceremony in St. James’ Palace.

Commenting on the winners, The Duke of York said: “This is the pinnacle of what we’re trying to achieve with iDEA: it is the use of the digital world in order to provide solutions. All of these young people have solved some unique and specialist challenges. I believe they can be standard bearers for all the ideas that are out there”

On top of £15,000 funding, the winners will receive professional support from a number of iDEA partners including Microsoft Ventures, Barclays, Facebook to further develop their business ideas.

Dr Leila Walker, Programme Director for the iDEA initiative, added: “We have seen some amazing start-ups being pitched today that clearly demonstrate the strength of young entrepreneurial talent in Britain. We currently have a 750,000 digital workforce gap in the UK and it’s vital that we continue to support and nurture young people in building the digital and entrepreneurial skills they need to create the next global technology businesses.”

Launched in March last year by The Duke of York and Nominet Trust, iDEA is an initiative that aims to support young people in developing digital, enterprise and entrepreneurial skills.

The competition invited 14-25 year olds to build a digital business venture, enabling them to build prototypes and test the viability of their idea with real customers in the market. The ten best teams were shortlisted from hundreds of applications, which hailed from multiple regions across the UK.

iDEA judge and industry expert, Ian Livingstone, said: “From over 730 applications we have seen an astonishing breadth of business ideas, and I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more about them as they develop into exciting start-ups of tomorrow. Our young people are eager to make their mark on the world in a way that is creative, progressive and digitally-led, and it is up to us to help them realise their ambitions.”

Salesforce’s Melissa Di Donato, AVP EMEA and APAC, said, “We are thrilled to have the final judging in our offices to showcase the creative ideas that the youth of Britain have today. We believe there is tremendous benefit to all when provided with the support and mentorship of larger businesses and business leaders. At Salesforce, we put a premium on innovation and creativity, and it’s been very exciting and inspirational to see these participants as they’ve worked on their ideas and refined them into the entries we’re seeing today. I firmly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see, and it’s up to me and other business leaders to help the youth of today become Britain’s business owners of tomorrow.”

The iDEA competition will re-open for entries on 1st September 2015.

Young people keen to participate can find more information about iDEA, at: www.onemillionyoungideas.org.uk