Glasgow is set to host a group of talneted entrepreneurs this weekend as the UK’s brightest sparks compete for the crown of Towns Entrepreneur of the Year and £10,000 in start-up funding.
Run by The Carnegie UK Trust, the accelerator programme for young entrepreneurs has injected over £250,000 into 100 start-ups and supported more than 200 entrepreneurs since launching three years ago.
The TestTown challenge will see 18 entrepreneurs showcase 12 start-up business ideas in vacant shops and retail spaces in Glasgow’s historic Saltmarket district, trading for three days between Thursday 25th and Saturday 27th February.
Three of the contenders hoping for success are from Scotland – an aerial acrobatics company from Perth, a cake-making business and an artisan chocolatier, both from Falkirk.
Jim Metcalfe, TestTown Programme Leader at The Carnegie UK Trust, said: “Young people are particularly affected by the prevailing tough conditions in town economies across the country. It is very hard to turn a business idea into reality, which is unacceptable when you realise how many vacant retail units there are on our high streets.
TestTown helps young people to harness entrepreneurial flair at a local levelJim Metcalfe, TestTown Programme Leader at The Carnegie UK Trust
“TestTown helps young people to harness entrepreneurial flair at a local level. It provides an opportunity to connect town centre entrepreneurs with the challenges facing the high street, making them real partners and contributors to improving local communities.”
Glasgow’s Saltmarket district was once the main thoroughfare of Glasgow and acted as a popular shopping district made-up of independent retailers. Glasgow City Council recently announced its commitment via the City Centre Strategy to regenerate the area after the TestTown Final, which includes vacant shop units being offered to Glasgow-based start-ups in a bid to boost local business.
A pilot support project has also been introduced to assist current tenants with the upkeep of their premises.
Councillor George Redmond, Executive Member for Jobs, Business and Investment at Glasgow City Council, said: “The regeneration of our town centre is something we take extremely seriously so we are delighted to be hosting the TestTown final. The experiences of this year’s contestants will offer us real-life examples of how youth entrepreneurship can help to regenerate parts of the city.
“The Saltmarket is the ideal location for TestTown, being an area on the cusp of regeneration and with fantastic potential. TestTown shares many of the ambitions behind our own city centre strategy and we hope Glaswegians will come out to The Saltmarket and The Briggait to support the initiative.”
Each TestTown contestant had previously won their respective regional heats, with each challenge tailored to local economic needs. Challenges have included a pop-up youth enterprise market in Bridgend, Wales; green enterprise training and mentoring in Walthamstow, London; and a master crafts training session for unemployed 18-30 year olds in Enniscorthy, Ireland.
TestTown finalists will be judged on the commercial strength of their business concept, future plans and understanding of their chosen industry.