YOUNG aspiring entrepreneurs are competing for a prize fund worth up to £50,000 towards their first year of business.
The 16 to 25-year-olds taking part in the Young Start-up Talent scheme attended a networking session at Fareham Innovation Centre to meet with professionals.
The project, which is sponsored by The News and other firms in the Solent area, aims to help young people gain access into the business world.
After submitting business ideas online, 10 people were chosen to attend the networking event for the semi-final of the competition.
Nigel Duncan, principal and chief executive of Fareham College, said: ‘I have been truly inspired by the quality of the ideas presented by these young entrepreneurs.
‘The innovative design concepts coupled with a real sense of business acumen and excellent presentation skills made selecting the finalists extremely difficult.
I have been truly inspired by the quality of the ideas presented by these young entrepreneurs.Nigel Duncan
‘I am confident that they will all make it in business in the future.’
Michael Dyer, from sponsor Verisona Law, added: ‘I found the evening to be extremely exciting and incredibly inspiring.’
Only five of the young entrepreneurs will get into the final, so they had to spend seven minutes per sponsor to show why they deserved to be put forward.
Semi-finalist Kayem Ali said: ‘The experience was brilliant and I’ve learnt such a lot in a short space of time.’
For fellow semi-finalist Harry Phelan, the evening was a nervous but enjoyable experience.
He said: ‘I was incredibly excited to be part of Young Start-up Talent.
‘I was of course slightly nervous for what was ahead of me but it’s great to be amongst so many young entrepreneurial minds and to see great innovation being used.’
The final will be similar to television programme Dragon’s Den where each contestant will pitch a refined business plan to a panel of judges,
The final showcase will take place at the Novotel Hotel in Southampton on October 20, where the winner of the prize fund will be revealed.
Councillor Sean Woodward, from Hampshire County Council, said: ‘Nobody is going to hold your hand all through life and you’ve got to get out there and compete.
‘You’ve got to find the gap and exploit it and that’s exactly what these young people will be doing.’