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Budding entrepreneurs across Perth and Kinross have just one week left to enter into a nationwide competition to help make their business idea a reality and qualify for a place in a national final with the chance to win £10,000 in business start-up funds and ongoing business mentoring.
The TestTown initiative, devised by the Carnegie UK Trust, was launched to help provide a welcome boost to trading and footfall to high streets up and down the country and to help encourage more young people into business.
Perth will act as one of seven regional TestTown heats being held between May to August. The winner of the Perth event will secure £500 start-up funding for their idea. They will then join each of the regional winners to participate in a grand final in the autumn, of which the location is still to be announced.
Open to those aged 16-30, the competition aims to fill the void left by the 50,000* vacant shops in Britain’s town centres. As well as aiming to inject new life into the high street, with just three per cent of small businesses run by under-35s** and more 16- to 24-year-olds (54%) now out of work than any other age group***, TestTown also offers a lifeline to young people with an entrepreneurial spirit but little means to turn their idea into reality.
TestTown opened for applications at the start of March and an influx of entries have already been received. With just one week to go, the competition’s organisers are urging final entries to come forward.
Jim Metcalfe, TestTown Programme Leader at the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “If you have ever dreamt of making your business idea a reality, then now is the time to go for it! We will provide you with the support to get your business off the ground and you will have the opportunity to trade against competitors, just as you would in a normal business environment.
“In the age of online shopping and social media, town centres need to adapt to woo local people back into them and we have deliberately selected a diverse range of towns for our regional heats. Some are thriving; others have challenging retail environments; and some attract more tourist traffic. Each brings a unique aspect to TestTown and should provide really interesting results.
“Despite things remaining difficult for high street traders, analysis out by accountancy firm Delottie this week revealed that the high street is showing great resilience and shows great capacity for re-invention. This is really what TestTown is all about. We want to help provide a boost to high streets across the country with new and innovative business models.
“We wish applicants the very best of luck!”
Councillor John Kellas, Convener of Perth & Kinross Council’s Enterprise & Infrastructure Committee, said: “Perth already has a strong tradition of independent businesses finding a home within the city centre, but we know there are lots of people out there with great ideas who haven’t yet taken that first step.
“The TestTown competition offers an exciting way for people to try and get their business idea off the ground, and I’d encourage local entrepreneurs to get involved.”
The seven regional events will take place in Manchester, Middlesbrough, Rhyl, Kirkintilloch, Bury St Edmunds, Perth and Coleraine.
TestTown will close for applications on 16th April. Find out more here: www.testtown.org.uk.