£35m Entrepreneur Challenge

For the second year, The Sunday Times and Bank of Scotland Corporate are running the nationwide competition 'Entrepreneur Challenge'. The challenge is to find established entrepreneurs in UK companies which have a turnover of at least £2 million, with at least two years' continuous growth in profits and sales. The companies must be operating in a British or global market and may be in almost any industry sector, with one or two exceptions.

A national winner will be chosen from among the seven regional winners and will receive mentoring from one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs. This year, the winner in each of seven regions across the UK will receive a £5 million interest-free loan, which at today's interest rates, equates to a cash prize of £825,000. This is the biggest prize ever awarded to business in the UK (The Sunday Times, 3 February 2008).

The award will be made by a distinguished line-up of judges, many of whom are successful entrepreneurs themselves (The Sunday Times, 3 February 2008). Bill Muirhead, founding partner of M&C Saatchi and one of the judges, said of the judging process: 'I will be looking for fresh thinking and simplicity of ideas. Openness and good presentation skills are also important because they are all part of being a good communicator.' (The Sunday Times, 3 February 2008)

The overall winner last year was Daisy Communications, a Lancashire company that provides telephone and internet services to small and medium-sized firms. It plans to use its interest-free loan to expand through acquisition. (The Sunday Times, 3 February 2008)

Matt Riley, founder of Daisy Communications and one of this year's regional judges, said: 'To get a £5 million interest-free loan is really a massive benefit, especially with the credit squeeze we currently face. Traditionally banks are very cautious towards entrepreneurs, so I think it is great that Bank of Scotland Corporate is embracing the fact that entrepreneurs create wealth and jobs and prosperity for other people.' (The Sunday Times, 3 February 2008)

Read two Times 100 case studies on NFTE, an international non-profit organization which introduces young people to the world of business and entrepreneurship. It teaches them how to develop and operate their own small business. NFTE has been particularly successful in motivating under-achieving young people to develop business skills through experiential learning. Sources: The Sunday Times, 3 February 2008 (print edition)


The Times Online £35m prize will transform seven entrepreneurs, 3 February 2008

The Times Online – Business stars vie for £35m in entrepreneur challenge competition, 3 February 2008

The Bank of Scotland – The Entrepreneurs Challenge

The Times 100 Case Studies – NFTE, Developing enterprise skills

The Times 100 Case Studies – NFTE, The importance of entrepreneurship in small businesses

Potential study questions:

  • Give three personal characteristics of a successful entrepreneur.
  • Explain the difference between primary and secondary market research.
  • Explain how an entrepreneur on a small budget might carry out cost-effective market research before start-up.