Article summary: The final of PETA’s Apprentice Vs Dragons’ Den Programme, which took place on Friday 11 February, was a resounding success, with a team from Horndean Technology College winning the top prize with their carbon footprint tracker app idea.
Five teams were shortlisted for the final from a huge registration pool from over 40 schools in the region. All entrants were asked to come up with an idea for a new product to solve one of modern life’s challenges. Each team, which comprised up to five students, had to conceive and design a product that could be rolled out commercially and build a business case for their concept.
To enter, the teams had to record a 15-minute presentation covering the key areas - the concept, what the product is, its design, an idea of production and an overview of the business plan. These were submitted in early January and the finalists were selected.
The whole idea came about when PETA’s Head of Sales, Jamie Garrett, decided he wanted to improve engagement with local schools and promote the idea of apprenticeships.
Jamie said: “I read about the James Dyson Innovation Award Programme and decided it would be great if we could do something similar on a local scale. Getting students to design a product that could solve one of life’s modern problems in an Apprentice V Dragons’ Den-style initiative sprang to mind and the idea grew from there.”
Jamie, along with Georgia Stewart, PETA’s School Engagement Coordinator, who was in charge of organising the Challenge, engaged with over 40 schools in the local area in September, inviting teams of Year 9 and 10 pupils to take part.
The challenge not only offers a great opportunity for school pupils to showcase their entrepreneurial skills, but it also gives them the chance to develop their business knowledge and practise their presentation skills too.
Between September and December Jamie visited schools to act as a sounding board for students to bounce their ideas off. Each team was given a pack when they entered, which included information on what they needed to think about and include. We provided a structure of a business plan, which was a useful starting point for many.
After the shortlisted teams were announced in January, Jamie revisited those schools and gave each team some presentation training to build up their confidence and give them an idea of what to deliver and how to best utilise the 15 minutes.
The five finalists attended the event on 11 February, which was also attended by the teams’ parents, teachers, The Portsmouth News, and of course, our panel of Dragons.
The roles of the Dragons were fulfilled by James Sessions, Chief Financial Officer of Prysmian Group, an electrical cable manufacturer headquartered in Milan; Kelly Sunderland, European HR Director for electronics manufacturer PEI Genesis; Tony Mason, Managing Director of Pall’s UK companies, a global supplier of hi-tech purification and filtration services; Penny Mordaunt, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North & Minister of State for Trade; and PETA’s CEO Huw Chapman.
Huw said: “It was really interesting to see the way each of the groups came together and thought about a holistic business plan in terms of the concept, particularly around the environmental issues. Then following it all the way through to recognising how the products could be made, how they could go out and market it, sell it, and their aspirations for growth in the future, it was excellent.”
The Dragons asked lots of questions to determine who the winning team should be. The evening was streamed on YouTube and at one point there were more people watching it than there were in the room! The presentation part of the evening ran from 6.30pm - 9pm, then the Dragons took a break to deliberate.
The second part of the evening comprised the award presentations. There were five awards, with each dragon sponsoring an award. There was the Concept Award, Design Award, Production Award, Business Plan Award and the Overall Winner. All the prizes came with £100 cash plus a trophy and the overall winners also received £500 in vouchers too.
The five shortlisted teams products were as follows:
- The winning team’s product was an app that records the carbon emission levels of all your activities - everything from your vehicle, to what you eat, consume and buy.
- The team from Cowplain School came up with a dynamo that would charge a mobile phone.
- The team from Portsmouth Academy designed a piece of jewellery that had an alarm built into it that could be connected to a friend’s phone allowing an alert to be sent if they were in trouble.
- A second team from Portsmouth Academy came up with an idea for a vending machine that only dispensed liquid, no packaging, which is more environmentally friendly and promotes the use of reusable cups and bottles rather than disposable ones. The machine also gives users the option to buy a recycled bottle if they need to.
- The second team from Horndean Technology College thought up the idea for a home-use vitamin tester, where they had recognised that vitamin deficiency is one of largest contributors to ill health in the UK.
Jamie said: “We’re hoping to reach even more schools and pupils next year; we’ll be going out to over 100 schools in May to invite them to participate. If we can get them signed up in the summer term and get them thinking of ideas, they’ll be raring to go by September.”
During the evening, the pupils also gained an insight into opportunities available to them after school in the form of apprenticeships. PETA offers a range of apprenticeships spanning a number of industries including business and leadership, administration, IT, engineering, marketing, sales and customer services. PETA is great at not only delivering exceptional apprenticeship training, but also creating successful partnerships between employers and apprentices to ensure both parties are well-matched.
Penny Mordaunt MP said: “The students were amazing, it was so fascinating to see the creativity they were putting in and the incredible research and how methodically they’d thought through every aspect of the product they were producing.”
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