Duke of York and Nominet Trust launch youth digital enterprise initiative iDEA

Digital Enterprise Award backed by Michael Action-Smith and Nick D’Aloisio to support over a million young entrepreneurs

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Prince Andrew and the Nominet Trust have launched a new enterprise initiative which will provide funding and mentoring to those aged 16-25 years old with “innovative” digital business ideas.

Announced at Buckingham Palace today, the Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA) will look to support more than one million young entrepreneurs over the next five years with the 2014 pilot scheme targeted at helping 1,000 young people to set up new business ventures.

Intended to encourage entrepreneurship in young people, iDEA will run over three stages; initially connecting 1,000 young people to a “pool of business mentors to articulate their business idea”, then shortlisting 100 teams who will test and refine their ideas, and granting the 20 most promising ideas with £5,000 incubation funding to help take their prototype to market.

The top three digital ideas will then be selected to receive the 2014 iDEA Award and will be given £15,000 seed funding each.

All participants in the programme will receive digital ‘Open Badges’ which will recognise the achievements and skills gained throughout the award.

A number of learning organisations will be delivering the programme, including The Prince’s Trust, Gazelle Colleges and The Studio Schools trust, to help young people improve their digital skills.

The initiative has already garnered support from leading entrepreneurs including Mind Candy founder Michael Acton-Smith, young multi-millionaire entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio, model turned business woman Lily Cole, and music mogul will.i.am, who will act as ambassadors for the scheme.

The launch builds on a new YouGov survey, commissioned by Nominet Trust, which reported that, of the 1,000 16-25 year olds surveyed, 64% felt formal education didn’t go far enough to help young people interested in entrepreneurship, and 83% believed that the lack of advice and guidance would make starting a business difficult.

Nominet Trust CEO, Annika Small, commented: “Digital technology has fundamentally changed the nature of entrepreneurship, opening up new opportunities for young people to create businesses.

“However, much of the support currently available to young entrepreneurs is desperately out of sync with their needs. […] From working with young people, it is clear that they are looking for small scale support that allows agile and iterative development, building and testing prototypes before going to market.

“In partnership with our patron, The Duke of York, Nominet Trust has created iDEA to support the UK’s next generation of digital entrepreneurs.”

iDEA ambassador Action-Smith continued:“iDEA is exactly the type of scheme that could have helped me as a teenager.

“I hope it can inspire and embolden a new generation of British tech entrepreneurs.”

iDEA is being piloted for 2014 and the next phase will start with registration in October 2014 for iDEA 2015.

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