Could your Big Idea win £100,000 prize?

WHAT'S your big idea?

Wednesday, 26th September 2007, 2:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th September 2007, 4:11 pm

That's the question being posed to budding entrepreneurs across Sheffield - and if they come up with the right answer they could walk away with a share of a 100,000 cash prize, help from a business expert and the prospect of major investment from a Business Angel.

The BiG Idea initiative is the brainchild of Royal Bank of Scotland and Sheffield independent telemarketing agency Ant, with backing from local independent accountancy firm Barber Harrison and Platt, The Star and Sheffield Council.

Its aim is to increase the number of entrepreneurs in Sheffield, help them develop their business skills and turn their ideas into real products and services.

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"It's time for a new entrepreneurial spirit in the city and this competition, designed to encourage budding entrepreneurs and local businesses, is just the beginning," says David Grey, managing director of the OSL Group.

He is also chairman of Sheffield's Local Economy Board, which is supporting the initiative as part of an 18 million government-funded initiative to boost entrepreneurship in Sheffield.

He said: "A vital aspect of what we're doing is providing the inspiration for the younger generation - Sheffield's next generation of entrepreneurs."

He says entrepreneurs can feel undervalued: "They have great ideas and ambitions but some simply run out of steam because there is nobody to help at that critical stage, nobody to listen. In the poorer neighbourhoods entrepreneurship is shockingly low."

The BiG Idea competition is designed to be as easy to enter as possible.

All entrants need to do is fill in a simple entry form, which is available on the BiG Idea website - www.thebigwebsite.org.uk - and on paper, telling organisers about their idea, why they think it is great, and what, if anything, they have done about it.

The entry form also asks what obstacles the budding entrepreneurs see in their way, how they might overcome them and where they hope their idea will be in a couple of years' time.

Entries have to be in by November 23 and all entrants will be entitled to a free business consultation with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Once the closing date is passed, a shortlisting team from the Royal Bank of Scotland will contact anyone with a commercially attractive idea and carry out a confidential telephone interview, lasting about 15 minutes, to explore the idea's potential further.

Anyone who is shortlisted will have the choice of a 1,000 cash prize or a day's worth of business advice, free of charge. Those who don't reach the shortlist will be offered business advice designed to help them secure the support their business idea needs.

Shortlisted entrepreneurs face a final hurdle - they will have to explain their ideas to an interview panel made up of the business angels who could decide to back their ideas with cash and expertise.

TO ENTER THE BIG IDEA COMPETITION CLICK HERE

Putting business first - what the competition sponsors say.

John Warner, partner at Barber Harrison and Platt: "We firmly believe in the success of Sheffield and want to contribute in whatever way possible to encourage the growth of new businesses in the area."

Alan Powell, editor of The Star: "Whatever we can do to promote new business coming into the region, we will be there."

Anthony Hinchliffe, chief executive of Ant Marketing: "I am really keen to try and help some entrepreneurs launch and boost their businesses in Sheffield."

Chris Forrest, South Yorkshire director of The Royal Bank of Scotland: "This project is determined to get the spirit of enterprise into all parts of Sheffield."

Sir Robert Kerslake, chief executive of Sheffield Council: "Entrepreneurship is absolutely vital to the future success of Sheffield. What it brings with it is innovation, new ideas and a new dynamism to the Sheffield economy."