The Duke of York, alongside the Nominet Trust, launched the national roll-out of the digital initiative, iDEA (Inspiring Digital Enterprise Awards) for 2015, earlier today.
The scheme, which began its pilot in 2014, aims to support one million young people with improved digital skills, 500 digital business start-ups, and 50 successful digital businesses established by young people over the next five years.
The initiative is split into two separate strands:
1. iDEA Open Badges – allows anybody to gain industry-endorsement for a range of digital and entrepreneurial skills.
Each badge is based on a specific digital enterprise or entrepreneurial skill and have been endorsed by an industry leader known for experience in the field. There are 9 badges already available, with more on the way:
- Introduction to Sales Process – endorsed by Salesforce
- Web Starter Level 1 – endorsed by Microsoft
- i.am. STEAM Certified – endorsed by will.i.am’s ‘i.am.angel Foundation’
- Remix The Web – endorsed by Mozilla
- LifeSkills (Email & Internet and Enterprise Skills) – endorsed by Barclays
- Think Big Digital Creativity – endorsed by O2
- Introduction to Pitching – endorsed by Silicon Valley Bank
- Connected Audience Everywhere – endorsed by RadiumOne
- Social Media for Business – endorsed by the Digital Youth Academy
2. iDEA Competition – open to young people aged between 14 and 25 and must not have previously received more than £3,000 worth of funding or significant in-kind support/resources of the same value or more, for their business idea.
The competition is made up of three stages:
Stage 1 ‘Discovery’ – entrants submit a digital business idea that solves a problem they have identified.
Stage 2 ‘Beta’ – 100 top teams take their business idea from concept to prototype.
Stage 3 ‘Live’ – the 20 projects with the most promise will be given £2,500 each to turn their prototypes into a viable product.
Finalists of the competition pitch their business to an expert panel of judges in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style presentation, for a chance to be one of three winners awarded £15,000 each to further develop their business through a Microsoft-supported accelerator programme.
Regardless of the stage reached, all entrants are given other opportunities enabling them to continue to gain key digital and enterprise skills or to even take their business idea further, outside of the iDEA scheme.
The winners of the 2014 pilot scheme competition were announced in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace earlier this afternoon:
The Duke has been an avid support of the initiative since its inception, and considers it a priority to support young people in developing skills that make them more employable so that they can become economically active. He has often said that there is no point having the right skills if there are no jobs.
Speaking at the event today, Prince Andrew said:
This digital universe has no geographical boundaries. I am extremely pleased that iDEA can accelerate the speed we go from initial idea, to concept, to business. There are huge potential opportunities for some of things we have heard today.
He spoke to Radio 1’s Newsbeat programme beforehand about his own engagement with digital technology:
The point being made by the scheme is that, generally, businesses are becoming more efficient and require fewer employees, so any growth in job opportunities will come from a more entrepreneurial economy. iDEA seeks to address both of these issues, Digital Skills, critical to the current market place and entrepreneurial endeavour.,
Musician and philanthropist, will.i.am, who is also a member of the scheme’s board, said: “Whether a young person aspires to be a fashion designer, a doctor, a solar engineer, or a musician, digital and entrepreneurial skills are essential to success.”
iDEA has also attracted the attention of a variety of ambassadors for the creative industries, including the BBC. Kerensa Jennings, the BBC’s Head of Strategic Delivery said:
“The BBC wants to inspire a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology, and our Make it Digital initiative is dedicated to achieving this ambition. We are proud to lend our efforts to HRH the Duke of York and the Nominet Trust to help them achieve their aspirations of touching the lives of a million young people and empowering them to develop digital and enterprise skills through iDEA.”
Other ambassadors include Lily Cole and Nick D’Aloisio, the latter of whom sold his Summly app to Yahoo for millions of pounds last year.
“It’s not just learning how to code that matters. What young people need above all is the support and advice that can get them into the mindset of becoming an entrepreneur. That’s what doesn’t get widely taught. And it’s why The Duke of York’s iDEA scheme is so important,” Nick said of the scheme.
The co-founder of iDEA, Nominet Trust, is the UK’s leading funder of digital social innovation. Investing more than £21m in 700+ ventures since its inception in 2008, it has been actively supporting the digital participation of young people for the past two years. Nominet Trust is responsible for the .UK infrastructure on the internet and so revenue gained from .uk, .org.uk and .co.uk sites help to fund the Trust’s work.
Its CEO, Annika Small, said that the new digital technology had “fundamentally changed” entrepreneurship and opened up new opportunities for young people. Coupled with the iDEA initiative, this equips young people to create and take on digital jobs in the future.
Image Credits: The Duke of York’s Office