Budding UK technology entrepreneurs can realise their innovative ideas through a new Royal Academy of Engineering award aimed at 16 to 25 year olds, which offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be mentored by business leaders.

The winner of the new Launchpad competition will receive the most valuable UK award for young entrepreneurs in the technology sector - the JC Gammon Award - which is designed to help cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs by encouraging young people to think commercially early on in their careers.

The winner will become a member of the Academy's Enterprise Hub, an initiative that sees some of the UK's leading technology entrepreneurs pledge their time to mentor the country's most promising start-ups and SMEs. More than 100 volunteer mentors, who are Fellows of the Academy, have pledged their time to the Hub including well-known names such as Dr Mike Lynch FREng, Co-Founder of Autonomy and Founder of Invoke, and Sir Robin Saxby FREng, former Founding Chief Executive and Chairman of ARM.

As well as mentoring and training, joining the Hub and utilising the networks of the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering will give the winner of Launchpad the opportunity to make a lifetime's worth of high value business connections. The winner will also receive £15,000 to help catalyse their start-up business.

Within the first year of launching their business, the Academy will also invite the winner to pitch to a number of leading UK business angels and angel groups, with a view to securing further interest and investment.

"Age is irrelevant to coming up with good business ideas, and it's vital that we help young, talented engineers to develop their entrepreneurial skills in order to take their great ideas to market," said leading angel investor David Gammon, the primary benefactor of the award. "We want to encourage all of the participants, not just the overall winner, to think big and realise their entrepreneurial potential."

The competition opens for entries today, welcoming applications from any start-up company or individual with intent to form a company, with technology business ideas based on original IP or the innovative application of technology. Eligible disciplines can range from classical engineering such as mechanical, chemical, civil and biological, to mathematics, robotic, design, information technologies, and everything in between.

"The Launchpad competition has been established to encourage this country's talented young engineers to think beyond product development and consider how their innovations might be developed into a fully-fledged, vibrant businesses. This is incredibly important to the continued growth of the UK engineering sector," said Arnoud Jullens, Head of Enterprise at the Royal Academy of Engineering. "The future success of the UK's economy is dependent on investment in innovation today, and developing relevant skills in the next generation of technology entrepreneurs. This is something the Academy is actively supporting through its Engineering for Growth campaign."

Jullens continued, "With the breadth of engineering disciplines recognised by the Academy and the unmatched network of technology contacts it represents, we can provide the perfect platform to support young entrepreneurs and give them the best possible chance of success."

The deadline for entries is Monday 30 June 2014, and the winner will be chosen by a panel of highly experienced engineering entrepreneurs, including Ian Shott CBE FREng, Chair of the Academy's Enterprise Committee and Managing Partner at investment and advisory firm Shott Trinova LLP; David Gammon; Roy Merritt, Founder and Partner at private equity firm Oakfield Capital Partners; Elspeth Finch, Director at Atkins; and Glenn Manoff, Group Head of Corporate Affairs at Camelot.

Further details of the Launchpad competition and how to enter can be found on the Academy website.

Notes for editors

  1. The Launchpad winner will receive the JC Gammon Award, consisting of:
  • Mentoring from some of the UK's most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders
  • Support from the Academy on routes to markets and securing investment
  • Deep market and technology knowledge
  • Business training
  • Access to exclusive networking events and links to business and finance communities
  • £15,000 to invest in the company
  • The chance to pitch to a number of leading UK business angel groups within the first year
  1. The Launchpad judges are:
  • Ian Shott CBE FREng Ian is Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Committee and Managing Partner at investment and advisory firm Shott Trinova LLP. Prior to this, he was the founder and CEO of Excelsyn, which was sold to an American multinational in 2010, before which he held numerous senior executive positions at multinational life science companies across the globe.
  • David Gammon David is CEO of Cambridge-based Rockspring, which focuses on developing early stage technology companies. He is a serial angel investor. David is also a non-executive at Accesso plc and Frontier Developments plc. and Group Strategy Advisor to Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings).
  • Roy Merritt Roy is Founder and Partner at private equity firm Oakfield Capital Partners. He has over twenty years of experience investing in and managing growing businesses. He has worked with leading firms including Apax, Providence Equity, Amadeus Capital Partners, and was co-head of Deutsche Bank Capital's growth private equity business.
  • Elspeth Finch Elspeth is UK Innovation Director for Atkins, one of the world's leading design, engineer and project management consultancies, leading the company's efforts to help solve the challenges of tomorrow. She previously co-founded the Intelligent Space Partnership, a transport consultancy, and played a key role in the 2009 redesign of London's Oxford Circus. In 2013 Elspeth was awarded the Academy's Silver Medal for her achievements.
  • Glenn Manoff Glenn is well-known business leader and youth advocate with expertise in communications, social business, sustainability and innovation. He was Group Head of Corporate Affairs Camelot, European Director of Social Business and Sustainability at Telefonica, and Communications Director at O2. Glenn founded Think Big, a €150 million Telefonica programme that backs thousands of young social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, and promotes digital literacy as an essential 'fourth literacy' for all young people.
  1. The Enterprise Hub. The Royal Academy of Engineering's Enterprise Hub is a new national resource for the UK's most promising technology-intensive SMEs and entrepreneurs. It provides money-can't-buy bespoke support and one-to-one mentoring from its Fellowship, which includes prominent tech entrepreneurs such as business icons Mike Lynch OBE FREng, Sir Robin Saxby FREng, Anne Glover OBE FREng and Ian Shott CBE FREng.
    Enterprise Hub website
  2. The Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.

For more information please contact:

Gilead Amit at Proof Communication
Tel: 0208 719 32010
Email: Gilead Amit

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