Academy students blow out competition with scented candles

BANBRIDGE Academy students finished overall winners in the finals of the Ulster Bank/Young Enterprise QuickStart competition held recently at Queen’s University, Belfast.

The local finalists - Susanna Cartmill, Beth McCullagh and Sarah McNeilly - impressed with their company, ‘Lucerna’ which produces scented candles.

A total of six school companies were in the final ‘Dragons Den’ and had to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of Northern Ireland’s top business leaders.

The event completed the second year of the ‘QuickStart’ programme, managed by Young Enterprise NI and supported by Ulster Bank.

Aimed at fostering an enterprise culture in schools, the programme this year gave students in 20 secondary schools across Northern Ireland an opportunity to set up and run a real company over a 10-week period.

The panel of ‘Dragons’ included Ian Jordan, Head of Business and Commercial Banking NI, Ulster Bank; Tracy Meharg, Managing Director, Innovation and Capability Development, Invest NI; ‘Jedi’ Jim Eastwood, star of BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ and Young Enterprise Ambassador for 2011/12; and Queen’s University’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, John Edmund.

Speaking at the QuickStart Final, Carol Fitzsimons, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland, highlighted the importance of the programme: “QuickStart is designed to give students their first experience of enterprise,” she said. “The NI Assembly’s Programme for Government places economic growth as its top priority, and young entrepreneurs are the key to the future prosperity of our region’s economy; therefore, these skills and attitudes cannot be fostered early enough.

‘We are delighted to have the support of Ulster Bank for the second year running, and, judging from the creativity and entrepreneurship demonstrated at trade fairs throughout the year, the students have already benefitted greatly from the mentoring provided by the Ulster Bank volunteers.”

Ian Jordan, Head of Business and Commercial Banking NI at Ulster Bank, added, ‘It is our hope that QuickStart will not only provide young people with the business skills to succeed in future, but will assist in shaping a new culture of entrepreneurship among the youth of Northern Ireland.

“Through QuickStart, they have learned to make money, take calculated risks and understand the needs of their target market.

“Our volunteers have had an extremely positive experience, sharing their business knowledge in the classroom, and have been very impressed with the students’ enthusiasm.”

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