Students Reach For The Sky With Winning Business Ideas

Fri, 10/08/2001 - 01:00

A cruise ship experience in the sky and an innovative safety jacket are the two winning ideas from budding inventors and young entrepreneurs who entered a County Durham business competition.

Durham County Council’s NETPark (North East Technology Park) Innovation Challenge was launched with East Durham College’s Business Academy to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Now two teams of students aged 14 and above won tickets to see The Gadget Show Live in Birmingham after impressing judges with their business plans showing how their ideas could be used in high tech commercial industries or products.

The winning group of four students aged 14 to 16 included Catherine Jackson and Kate Lackenby of St Bede’s Catholic School, in Lanchester, Durham, and Natasha Miller and Courtney Branetson of Dene Community School of Technology.

The pupils came up with the idea of Sky Fly – an airliner that would cruise at low altitude so passengers could enjoy sights like the Pyramids from above while experiencing a life of luxury on board.

East Durham College students Kyle Spencer, 19, Talia Muncaster, 16, Maggie Idaszewska, 17, Kay Boyle, 18, Jordan Peacock, 17, and Kyle Wilson, 17, came up with Gizmo – a safety jacket made up of organic LED lighting panels – which won the age 16 and over category.

As well as the Gadget Show tickets, the winning students will be presented with trophies and certificates during a presentation at East Durham College’s Schools Vocational Skills Awards on May 10.

Ray Sharp, enterprise manager with East Durham College, said: “The winning ideas were a credit to the students’ imagination and their business plans showed how a great deal of thought had gone into their projects.”

Cabinet member for regeneration and economic development at Durham County Council, Cllr Neil Foster, said: “Challenges like this offer our youngster residents a real insight into the magnificent world of science and technology. I am impressed by how the teams have worked together to come up with innovative yet practical designs. Who knows what these great minds may design in the future? Well done to everyone.”

The competition was part of Project C, the ongoing outreach and engagement programme for the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in, Sedgefield, County Durham which aims to raise aspirations and make people aware of careers in science, engineering and technology.

Ann Deary-Francis, community engagement officer at NETPark, which is run by Business Durham, said: “There are so many fantastic opportunities available for young people in the science and technology industries and this competition gave a real chance for them to show just how innovative they can be.”