Youth power to the fore at global meeting

Maikel Beerens is one entrepreneur who will attend the conference
Maikel Beerens is one entrepreneur who will attend the conference
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A GLOBAL conference aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs has been brought back home by its Scottish founder after launching similar events in China and South Africa.

This week’s event, organised by the Power of Youth organisation and sponsored by the Scottish Government and the Royal Bank of Scotland, will be the third to bring together entrepreneurs under the age of 30 who have started a business with a turnover of more than £1 million.

The 25 attendees expected at the four-day conference at Ardoch, an events venue on the shores of Loch Lomond, will include: Rao Jin, founder of Renren, China’s answer to Facebook; Stuart Minnaar, the South African founder of Studentology, an online marketing company; and Maikel Beerens, whose Maastricht-based company Xilloc Medical has pioneered the production of cranio-facial implants, including a 3D printed jawbone.

Beerens, 28, who launched his company three years ago, attended his first Power of Youth event in Cape Town last year. The biomedical engineering graduate said he struggled for almost a year to persuade his colleagues at Maastricht University to allow him to spin out the company.

He said: “It was a harsh negotiation, I remember. But it was all part of the game and it was my dream. In order to multiply you need to share. I really like helping people who have struggles, which I had and solved. It also boosts my thinking process.

“It is more than a business meeting. The first day we arrive we are told ‘don’t talk about what is going well with your business because we ­already believe that’.

“The conference is about all the things that don’t go well. It goes to the core of why we are there. You share your problems and it is pretty open.”

Power of Youth, a social enterprise, was co-founded by Adam Purvis, a 29-year-old Edinburgh Napier University graduate. The consumer product design graduate launched the organisation to “harness the power and optimism of young business leaders and entrepreneurs who have the fire and drive within them to make a difference to the world and inspire a generation”.

He said he decided to bring the event to Scotland following an invitation from finance minister John Swinney.

He said: “This is our third conference and we know it will be just as successful as our events in Beijing and Cape Town.”

Ten of the overseas delegates will also attend a networking event the same week entitled The Naked Entrepreneur, along with 150 young Scottish business owners at the RBS conference centre at Gogarburn.

Gordon Merrylees, RBS regional managing director of business banking Scotland, said: “Young people who embark on an entrepreneurial journey need the right role models and support to be a success. However, the provision of mentors and role models has been identified as an area of weakness for start-ups.

“RBS is working in partnership with the Power of Youth programme and the Scottish Government to break down this barrier.

“We’re giving young entrepreneurs in the UK and across the globe the opportunity to achieve their full potential by providing the expertise, access to networks, guidance and mentoring they need to be ­successful.”

Twitter: @EdinburghErikka