Four young entrepreneurs have won national awards in the 2020 Big Deal enterprise project.   The Year 11 students, from Richmond School and Sixth Form College, scooped the top accolades in four categories. Sponsored by the University of York, a leading Russell Group University, the pioneering project takes students through a three-month intensive programme whereby they complete a series of business planning tasks, including ideas generation, budgeting, marketing and risk analysis.

This year, the programme was entirely online, however it didn’t deter the students who embraced this new way of working and delivered impressive results. Amelia Brown won the award for outstanding engagement, Cora Aked for outstanding webinar engagement, Emma Scott for an outstanding business plan and Peter Longstaff for outstanding submissions in the weekly activities and business plan.

At the end of the programme, the students submitted their business plans, which were judged by business mentors and university leaders. The students were awarded AirPods, tablets, stationery packs and University of York hoodies in recognition of their great ideas and contributions.

Peter’s business plan was for a product called “Cool Dog” which helps pets to keep cool in very hot weather. Ms Mannion said: “The idea is ingenious and the business plan itself very professional and worthy of inclusion on Dragon’s Den.”  Cora was also asked to develop a webinar on being an entrepreneur and the skills required and has developed superb presentation skills.

John Frankland, Director of 5th Dimension Consulting Ltd in Hull, said: “I’ve been amazed at the ideas that the students came forward with. I have worked with companies ranging from new start-ups through to multi-national corporations, but I still find some of the questions the students are coming up with really challenging. They’ve clearly thought a lot about what it is they want to achieve.”

Forty students took part in the 13-week programme and the winners were announced at an online Big Deal Awards ceremony to celebrate the successes of the young entrepreneurs. It included Guest Speaker Workshops to inspire students and help them to discover how to take their skills and ideas from The Big Deal into the future.

Ms Mannion said: “We had a massive take up to the Big Deal and I am very proud of all forty of our students for taking part. They demonstrated a huge commitment as this project spanned four months during school closure, it was a challenge that really motivated them. They also demonstrated fantastic independent learning skills which helps to develop employability skills for the future.  It is a great honour for the school for four of our students to scoop top awards in a national competition.”

By working in partnership with businesses and schools, the university promotes dynamic relationships between students and professionals to bridge the gap between education and industry.  The scheme was established by the university in partnership with leading businesses such as Google, Shell, HSBC and Goldman Sachs.

Staff from the University of York thanked students for their high levels of resilience, dedication, perseverance, creativity and their truly inspirational business portfolios. Heather Lysiak, Access and Outreach Manager at York University, said: “We really hope these students will be role models for future years of Richmond students who have the opportunity to take part in The Big Deal.”