Talented students from 15 schools from across County Durham gathered last week at Beamish Hall Hotel for the final of the County Durham Future Business Magnates competition. Organised by Business Durham, the business support service of Durham County Council, the competition is designed raise aspirations and develop enterprising skills in young people from across the county.
In this annual competition teams of Year 8 students are given the opportunity to collaborate with mentors, engage in real-world business challenges, and gain invaluable insights into the business world. Now in its 18th year Future Business Magnates continues to inspire and empower the county’s next generation of business leaders.
These aspiring entrepreneurs tackled a wide range of challenges, displaying creativity, adaptability, and problem-solving skills in this year’s theme of ‘Solving today’s problems with tomorrow’s technology’.
A panel of judges comprising industry leaders, business experts, and community influencers had the crucial task of assessing the participants’ business proposals and crowning the winners. The judges evaluated each team’s ability to demonstrate market understanding, feasibility, and a compelling vision for their business ventures.
“We were very impressed by the quality of the ideas presented by the students. It’s inspiring to see such enthusiasm in young people to develop solutions to current issues they feel passionate about such as the climate, cost of living pressures, and mental health. We hope that this competition has helped to nurture the next generation of business leaders in County Durham.” said Sarah Slaven, Managing Director of Business Durham, who sat on the panel: “Their dedication, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit have been truly inspiring.”
Cllr Joan Nicholson, Chair of Durham County Council said: “The Future Business Magnates competition provides a unique opportunity for businesses and schools to come together to develop young people’s employability and enterprise skills. The competition helps both businesses and schools understand the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and the skills required to succeed in business. Future Business Magnates and similar initiatives are integral to our ambitions to support people to excel in business and their careers, and encourage entrepreneurship and enterprise, which we set out in our Inclusive Economic Strategy.”
Emerging as the winners, the team from St John’s Catholic School & Sixth Form Centre impressed the judges with their innovative product, Plant-a-Pencil, a pencil you can plant in soil (once used). The panel was impressed with the teams aptitude for identifying and solving modern challenges through imaginative solutions.
Notably, the runners-up from Park View School with The Food Saver a device to check if food is safe to eat, and in third place was North Durham Academy with their wearable charging device, Solar Soldiers.
This event was made possible through the generous support of sponsors, mentors, and community partners, including Co-op, TEDCO, Entreprenising, Stalemate, EI Company, BTS Fabrications, and Waterstons who all recognise the importance of investing in young entrepreneurs and helping them realise their dreams.
Winning School: St John’s Catholic School & Sixth Form Centre, Bishop Auckland
Business Name: Plant-a-Pencil – Pencils that ex-seed your expectations
Product Description: A pencil you can plant in soil (once used)
2nd place School: Park View School, Chester Le Street
Business Name: The Food Saver – Making food safe
Product Description: Detection device to check if food is safe to eat
3rd place School: North Durham Academy, Stanley
Business Name: Solar Soldiers – Saving the planet one step at a time
Product Description: Wearable charging device
Brian Manning Award for Most Effective Team
School Name: Framwellgate School, Durham
Business Name: Eco-Clothing – Saving the world one outfit at a time
Description: School uniforms made from recycled bottles
Best Prototype Design
School Name: Dene Academy, Peterlee
Business Name: Stomp Pads – A stomp a day keeps the darkness away
Product Description: Pressure plate that generates kinetic energy
Most Effective Marketing Concept
School Name: Durham Johnston School, Durham
Business Name: Life Balance – balance, breathe, begin
Product Description: Medical scanning scale
Best Environmental Business
School Name: St Bede’s Catholic School, Peterlee
Business Name: No-Plasti.Co Stationery – No Plasti.Co, only potato
Product Description: Biodegradable stationery and cutlery made from potato starch
Most Innovative Idea
School Name: Durham High School, Durham
Business Name: Leaf – clean air, leaf by leaf
Product Description: Clean air filtration system
Most Investment Ready Business
School Name: St Bede’s Catholic School, Lanchester
Business Name: Bedes Bin Clipz – Planet friendly solutions at a pocket friendly price
Product Description: Wheelie bin lid lock
School Name: Wolsingham School
Business Name: The Domestic Hydro Turbine – Saving money, saving the planet
Product Description: Hydroelectric turbine for the home
Best Business Plan
School Name: King James I Academy, Durham
Business Name: Super Sleep Pillow Pad – Sleep well, sleep cool
Product Description: Pillow support pad to aid sleep