Initiative offers lifeline for aspiring young entrepreneurs in bid to revitalise town centres

With just three per cent of small businesses run by under-35s and 54 per cent of 16 to 24 year-olds out of work, TestTown offers a lifeline to young people with an entrepreneurial spirit but little means to turn their idea into reality.

TestTown has been in development for over two years. The Carnegie UK Trust ran a pilot event in 2013 for a week, whereby over £10,000 sales were taken and footfall in the trading streets doubled. 

The event was won by Jenna Fairgrieve and Emma Pauley, owners of ‘Back on the High Street’, whose concept offered artists and crafters cheap shelf rental to serve as a platform for their work. 

Anyone aged between 16 and 30 can apply to be part of TestTown, which is taking place in seven towns and cities around the UK, followed by a national final. 

At the regional stage, unused high street spaces will be made available to the TestTown groups and individuals to trial their ideas. Each town will select a national finalist, whose idea will then be tested against the other regional finalists at an undisclosed high street location.

The national final of TestTown will be won by the most successful person or team during a week-long ‘pop-up’ retail festival hosted in a prominent British town centre. The winner will claim a £10,000 cash investment for their business and ongoing support from Carnegie UK Trust and its partners.

The regional heats of TestTown will be held from June to August in seven locations: Manchester, Middlesbrough, Rhyl, Kirkintilloch, Bury St Edmunds, Perth and Coleraine. Regional winners will also secure £500 start-up funding for their idea.

TestTown is now open for applications until 16th April. 

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