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  • Writer's pictureAyrshire Daily News

Winning night for East Ayrshire at Sir Tom Hunter all Ayrshire enterprise final

Doon Academy was crowned the winner of the Sir Tom Hunter Enterprise Challenge after delivering a high energy and professional businesses pitch for their company, Overulers.

The team, Eilidh McHattie, Ryan Bartolo and Yuri Goodfellow, supported on the night by fellow pupil Lauren Aitchison, created a unique product to help pupils who experience reading difficulties.

The Overuler product is the same size as a normal ruler but the internal section is clear. A pupil would insert their personalised coloured overlay into the ruler allowing them to read discreetly and with no stigma.

Their business pitch was exceptional. Sir Tom Hunter was very impressed by their business acumen and the hard business decisions they had taken, including cutting team members who were not committed to the project. They were also clear about how they wanted to grow their business by purchasing a 3D printer with their prize money.

Recognised for having a real business that could make a positive difference to the lives of young people and adults with reading difficulties, Doon Academy received a trophy from Sir Tom and a prize of £5000.

And in a shock announcement the young people were left reeling when Sir Tom let them know they would also be attending the Michelle Obama charity dinner, organised by the Hunter Foundation, in Edinburgh next month.

The good news kept coming for East Ayrshire with Stewarton Academy lifting the second prize of £3000 with their company Food Filter.

The Food Filter team of Niamh Murray, Christy Murray, Katie Ferguson, Rylie Morgan, Sam Speirs and Robbie Gillan, created a food allergy app that can take the stress out of eating out for people with serious food allergies.

Their pitch was extremely informative and the Judges were impressed by the app that is truly unique.

Third place went to North Ayrshire Council’s Ardrossan Academy. The team, Sense of Skills, received £2000 for their business that makes sensory toys at affordable prices.

As part of his commitment to mentor local pupils, entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter has, over the last six years, challenged youngsters to come up with ideas for products, innovations or businesses of the future.

Semi-final heats were held in East, North and South Ayrshire where the top three teams of young entrepreneurs were selected to represent their local authority at the all Ayrshire final held in Irvine.

Six teams received £1000 for reaching the finals. Teams representing Ardrossan Academy, Belmont Academy, Doon Academy, Prestwick Academy, Stewarton Academy and St Matthews Academy presented their business plans in the Dragons’ Den style contest to a panel of judges – Sir Tom Hunter, Willie Mackie (Board member of Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland), Marie Macklin (Executive Chair of Macklin Enterprise Partnerships) Heather Dunk (Principal, Ayrshire College) and David Ross (Architect and critically acclaimed author).

Sir Tom Hunter, entrepreneur and philanthropist said: “All of the schools last night were winners; their drive, determination and innovation were an absolute inspiration!

“We now need to keep supporting these nascent entrepreneurs to be all they can be – they make all of us in Ayrshire very proud.”

Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of East Ayrshire Council said: “I am incredibly proud of our young people from Doon Academy who showed great maturity, confidence and humour to win the grand final of the Sir Tom Hunter Challenge and to Stewarton Academy who took second place.

“Our teams pitched viable business ideas in a passionate way. They engaged the judges and the audience with their excellent presentations that were well researched and developed. All projects had a degree of inclusivity. They were all about kindness and helping others.

“Engagement with business is a key priority for our Council and is now securely embedded in the school curriculum. Our vision is to ensure that every pupil will develop the skills and abilities for a successful career.

“Above all, we want to foster in our young people that vital ‘can-do’ attitude and positive mindset. Events like this clearly show what a talented pool of young entrepreneurs we have in East Ayrshire.”

The Sir Tom Hunter Challenge formed part of the Council’s sector leading business enterprise programme, designed to develop entrepreneurial skills and help make young people ‘business ready’.


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