The programme, New Entrepreneurs Foundation, is backed by heavyweight UK entrepreneurs including Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of Invensys and BAA; Lord Davies, a former trade minister; and Oliver Pawle, chairman at Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann.
The New Entrepreneurs Foundation programme will run from September 2011, and is looking for 25 “highly motivated and business-minded young people who have the potential to create and run new market leading businesses”.
In addition to working with entrepreneurs, the high fliers will take part in a training programme, including seminars and events run by business schools and sponsoring companies, covering strategy, finance and communications. So far, the New Entrepreneurs Foundation has signed up private sponsors including Deloitte, 3i, Diageo and McKinsey.
“Our aim is to give burgeoning entrepreneurs the ‘on the job’ training and contacts they need to get a headstart in building their own businesses,” says Lord Davies. “Often young people may have the incentive to start their own venture, but don’t have the knowledge or tools to realise it.”
Sir Nigel Rudd adds: “More new ventures tend to be started in a downturn than in a boom, and we want to ensure that aspiring business leaders are equipped with the skills and contacts they need to make such ventures successful.”
The New Entrepreneurs Foundation sounds like a mash-up between the very successful On Purpose social entrepreneurship scheme and the BBC’s Apprentice.
Our only concern is whether the young people who sign-up will get much face time with the top entrepreneurs.
Perhaps ominously, the announcement specifies that the young people will spend time with a leading entrepreneur “and their senior management team”. We’ve got nothing wrong against professional managers, but for the scheme to work, the young people will need to get a real feel for what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, not a manager.