Wales’ young entrepreneurs ‘rock’ at The Big Pitch Challenge 2011
08 December 2011
Four students from Coleg Morgannwg have beaten seven other rival teams at the 2nd annual Big Pitch Challenge which took place at the Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay.
The challenge involved each team preparing and presenting their ideas on how best to identify and launch a new customer offer for the Rock UK Summit Centre, in Trelewis, the organisation’s first investment in Wales. As well as increasing their enterprise and employability skills the challenge also enhances further education sector links with the business community.
On the day, BBC1’s The Apprentice star, Ruth Badger was joined by three other judges (from the local business community) to cast their votes on the eight teams of students who had been selected from more than 250 applicants, twice the number that entered last year’s competition.
Head judge, Ruth Badger, who left full-time education at 16 with just three G.C.S.E’s worked for Lord Sugar after being a finalist in the second series of The Apprentice and now runs her own successful business. As well as judging the aspiring entrepreneurs, Ruth offered her business know-how in a question and answer session at the event.
Talking about the day, Ruth said: “Events such as these are massively important both for students and businesses.
“They make students understand that business is accessible to them and the more people that start their own business the more our economy will stabilise. They also make local businesses aware of the raw talent that is in their area.
“All of the students who took part today should be proud of what they have achieved and I have no doubt that I will see a few of their faces on the business scene in the near future.”
Frugality, the winning team from Coleg Morgannwg, who are currently pursuing qualifications in Theatre Studies, said: “We are so proud to have won this event and happy that all of our hard work has paid off.
“The whole experience has been fantastic and we have learnt so much. It has developed our confidence which will not only help with our current course but also help us in the future when applying for university courses or attending job interviews.”
In preparation for the event the teams from Coleg Gwent, Coleg Morgannwg, Merthyr Tydfil College/UoG and The College Ystrad Mynach received professional training in marketing, presentation and media relations techniques to develop the skills needed to complete the task.
Further support for the event came from Lord Sugar’s right hand man, former Big Pitch Judge and this year’s patron, Nick Hewer. He said: “I am delighted to be Patron of the Big Pitch 2011 and would like to congratulate this year’s winner Frugality.
“I was fortunate to be involved with last year’s event. It was truly inspiring and uplifting to see the students from your colleges excel themselves in their application, creativity, team-working, public speaking and sheer determination to rise to the challenges set.
“The students are a huge credit to themselves, their tutors and colleges and the Valleys. The experience of this challenge will put them in good stead for future career development.”
Phil Burkhard, Valleys Regional Park / WECAN and Big Pitch project manager said: “We were amazed by the number of applicants and it was tremendous to see how the students performed. The students’ ideas also showed how to make the most of the natural environment in the Valleys, to foster regeneration. We were delighted to attract the Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute, Rhymney Brewery and Capita Symonds, as co-sponsors, to support Big Pitch at a time when over 1 million young people are unemployed in the UK."
The event was supported by the Welsh Government. Jeff Cuthbert, Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Skills, said: "Big Pitch is a great way to engage young learners and to challenge their aspirations and ideas. It’s essential in this type of economic climate that we equip students with the entrepreneurial skills and experience to make them more competitive both at home and in the global market. I wish the winning team the best of luck in turning their pitch into reality.’
Rachel Allen, Centre Director of Rock UK Summit Centre, said: “The final event was a brilliant day and I’m very grateful to have been involved in such a worthy venture, giving a fantastic enterprising opportunity for young people. It’s encouraging to see young people striving to do their best. We have plans for a £2.5million refurbishment and it’s great to think that we could be implementing some of the students’ ideas in the near future.”
The initiative was funded by the Welsh Government as part of their drive to boost young people’s entrepreneurial confidence, which is essential to economic recovery and is part of the new BigIdeasWales.com campaign.
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