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Unlocking Ambitions, Creating Growth

Tue, 03 December 2013

Contributed by Ed Daniels, Chairman of Shell UK
There is no question that the future health of our economy and our competitiveness on the world stage depends on the UK’s young people setting up successful businesses.
In a recent speech, the Prime Minister said it is “by backing them, and backing their aspirations that [the UK] will be able to compete and thrive in the global race.” At Shell LiveWIRE, we wanted to better understand how our young people were faring in terms of entrepreneurial ambition and activity, so we teamed up with Youth Business International to create a research report: Unlocking Ambitions, Creating Growth.
Our report found that compared to a number of leading enterprise nations, the UK is not making the most of its entrepreneurial talent-base. This comes at the expense of potential job creation, economic growth and international competitiveness. For example, nearly one in five (18%) 18-34 year olds in the UK believe they have the entrepreneurial skills to start a business and perceive a potential business opportunity, yet less than 4% go on to create a company that pays a wage and makes a profit. 
Furthermore, if you add those who’ve started a company not yet paying a salary to the companies paying a wage, the UK’s rate for converting potential young entrepreneurs into business owners is still less than half (49%), well behind countries including Singapore (84%), China (82%), the Netherlands (55%), Brazil (56%) and the USA (51%).
We have a hugely rich resource of skilled youth in this country, who dream of starting a business. The challenge comes in transforming these dreams into a reality. It IS hard to start a business. But, given the importance to the future of our economy – both short and long term – helping young budding business minds has to be a priority for everyone concerned.
At Shell LiveWIRE we are committed to supporting young entrepreneurs who have a vision. Originally set up to help address high levels of youth unemployment in the Strathclyde region of Scotland, the programme has now awarded over £5 million to young entrepreneurs and helped approximately 600,000 young people in the UK explore the possibility of starting their own business. And 2013 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner Jermaine Hagan, is a perfect example of the entrepreneurial passion, creativity and innovation that Shell LiveWIRE wants to encourage and support.
As the founder of Revision App, Jermaine’s company provides educational content to help students prepare for their exams throughout their 15 years of schooling. Using his first Grand Ideas Award of £1000 to develop video content, the app now uses a mixture of flashcards, videos and interactive tests to help users pass a range of core academic subjects. Free to download, accessed by over a million people to date and with a new version launching in the next few days, the app has been listed as the top education app by the Apple ‘App Store’ for the past two years.
We hope that this new investment of £10,000 will help Revision App in its goal of breaking new markets and creating additional courses for their customers. Jermaine has international ambitions, and has a target of reaching three million users by the end of next year, in places as varied as the Middle East, Thailand and the Philippines. He is a great ambassador for young entrepreneurs, and an example of what so many bright young people in this country can achieve.
It is on us – companies such as Shell, charities such as Youth Business International, policy makers and educational institutions – to help these young potential entrepreneurs turn their business dreams into reality. Ultimately, it is only by supporting them that we will be able to help transform the UK into a truly world beating economy. 

About Ed Daniels

Ed Daniels has been Executive Vice President of Global Solutions Downstream within Shell’s Projects & Technology (P&T) organisation since July 2009. In addition to his P&T position, Ed was appointed Chairman of Shell UK from January 1 2013.
Receiving a Masters of Chemical Engineering degree from Imperial College London in 1988, Ed joined Shell in the same year to work in its UK refining business. He undertook a number of sales and marketing assignments and studied for his MBA with Henley Business School, which he was awarded in 1995.
In June 2011, Ed was elected as Technical Vice President of the Council of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), the global professional institution for chemical and process engineers. He attained Chartered Engineer status in 2010 and was elected as a Fellow of the IChemE the same year. He is a Member of the CBI President’s Committee and a Member of CBI Energy and Climate Change Board.  


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