Competition is on the hunt for young business talent

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A PROJECT that hopes to find new business talent in the Solent area has been launched.

Young Start-Up Talent is a community-based initiative that encourages 16 to 25 year olds with an entrepreneurial flair for business to turn their ideas into reality.

The project was founded six years ago by public relations consultant Lorraine Nugent and Matt Turner of design and marketing agency Creative Pod.

It is already a firm fixture in five other areas in the south east including Gatwick, Brighton and Hove, Kent and Croydon and it is launching in the Solent area for the first time this year.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes recently met co-founder Ms Nugent to give the project her support.

She said: ‘It was great to hear about the great work she and Young Start-Up Talent are doing to encourage young people to develop and launch their own businesses.

‘It’s a valuable initiative, and I’m pleased to hear they are now looking to offer it across the Solent region.

‘We need to nurture the next generation of young entrepreneurs, and this is an effective practical way of providing that support.’

Operator of innovation centres Oxford Innovation has been announced as principal sponsor.

The company runs Portsmouth Technopole, Ocean Village Innovation Centre in Southampton and Fareham Innovation Centre, where scores of start-ups and early-stage firms are helped on site through a range of services and mentoring programmes.

There are more than 85 other high-profile sponsors and supporters across the south east area, including Gatwick Airport, NatWest, Thales and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Sponsors have contributed to a prize fund of products and services worth £50,000 for the eventual winner.

Aspiring entrepreneurs will be shortlisted to five, then they will pitch their plans to a Dragons’ Den-style panel of business professionals at the Fareham Innovation Centre in July.

Miss Fernandes is encouraging schools, colleges and youth groups to put forward candidates.

For more go to youngstartuptalent.co.uk.