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Young entrepreneurs have celebrated their achievements following the successful completion of a six-month business challenge. 

Students from nine secondary schools across County Durham have taken part in the Future Business Magnates competition, run by Business Durham, the business support service of Durham County Council. 

The competition, now in its 17th year, was run entirely online this year to ensure it could go ahead after being cancelled for the last two years due to COVID.  Teams of Year 8 students worked to develop a business idea and complete a series of six business-related challenges.   

The teams had access to online resources as well as real world business specialists who were on hand to provide expert advice.  Those providing expertise this year, included Neil Mawson from Hydram Engineering, Michael Stirrup from Waterstons and Mike Bourner from PDM.

The competition winners were announced at an awards ceremony, which took place at Durham County Cricket Club’s Riverside Stadium and which were hosted by journalist and host Charlie Charlton.

This year, judges were looking for a product or service on the theme of ‘Solving Problems in an Ever-Changing World.’ The winning team was Park View School in Chester-le-Street, with their business, D.I.V.E.R.S.E – Seek and Search who developed an item location system for the visually impaired. The winners’ trophy was presented by Cllr Beaty Bainbridge, Chair of Durham County Council.

Mr Christopher Hobbs, Head of Citizenship at Park View School, said: “Future Business Magnates has given our students an incredible experience, in one of the most uncertain of times. Although this year, the competition was mainly virtual, the outcome was just as magical. 

“Pupils taking part have grown across the year in terms of critical thinking, confidence, self-belief, resilience, communication, leadership and organisation. Taking part in FBM genuinely demystifies the concept of succeeding in business and allows pupils to believe they too can be successful in the world outside of the bounds of education.”

Second place went to Belmont Community School, in Durham for their B-Box Party box, biodegradable party bags with eco-friendly contents, while third place was scooped by St John’s Catholic School and College, in Bishop Auckland for their company The Soaring Eagles who developed an aromatherapy bracelet. 

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet Member for Economy and Partnerships at Durham County Council, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to restart this successful competition for schools across County Durham. It is the perfect opportunity for students to demonstrate their entrepreneurial spirit and to develop invaluable skills in areas such as communication, presentation and research, which will be extremely helpful in the workplace. 

“Their ideas to create a product or service to help solve problems in an ever-changing world were fantastic. They were made all the stronger thanks to the support of our dedicated business specialists, who helped them look at ways to bring their ideas to market. We hope the students who took part will be inspired to become business leaders of the future.”

The teams that participated this year were: 

For more information on how your school or business can get involved, please visit https://www.durhamstartups.co.uk/future-business-magnates/ 

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