Matthew Benson-Smith

Schools offered chance to show off their business brains in battle of the young entrepreneurs

27 February 2012
Matthew Benson-Smith
Entrepreneurial Chef Matthew-Benson-Smith

Schools and colleges from Harrogate are being challenged to put their business brains to the test with the launch of this year’s Umph! enterprise competition. A line up of successful Yorkshire entrepreneurs, including Mark Fletcher, chief executive of online global sports network Pitchero, and entrepreneurial chef Matthew Benson-Smith, are lending their weight to the contest.

Also on board this year is Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire and previously head of a string of high-profile businesses including Johnsons Cleaners and Prontaprint. Dean Hoyle, Card Factory founder and chairman of Huddersfield Town Football Club, is also playing a key role in the contest.

The brainchild of financial adviser Grant Thornton, the contest, which takes place in Huddersfield in July, will see the teams of students pit their wits against each other using the award-winning business simulation software, SimVenture.

The students will have the chance to take part in workshops with the entrepreneurs and, with their teachers, will hear firsthand the secrets of their success in business. The winning team will scoop the prestigious 2012 Umph! trophy and each team member will receive their own iPad.

Following the success of last year’s Umph! competition, teams of four 16-19-year-old entrepreneurs from across Yorkshire, who will represent their school, sixth form or FE college, are invited to enter this year’s contest online at

Winner of last year’s Umph! was a team from Huddersfield’s Greenhead College. Team member, Liam Grogan, said:

The speakers were really inspiring. They showed us that if you have opportunities you can grab them. With the level of business people at Umph! it can actually open doors.

Sandra O’Neill, head of business development at Grant Thornton, said:

Last year’s contest was a hotbed of enthusiasm and creative energy. It was brilliant to see the students having the chance to put their business skills to the test. Solving real-life business problems, as the teams do on the day, gives an important extra dimension to young people’s knowledge and academic learning. We were delighted when, as a result of the competition, Andy Hobson, owner of Fantastic Media, spotted the talent of two of the students, offering them both a work placement, which is a great result.

The ultimate prize is to win, but the opportunity to meet and learn from some of Yorkshire’s most innovative business minds is also a chance not to be missed. Times are tough for school leavers in this economic climate, with rising youth unemployment and costly university fees taking their toll. We’re passionate about nurturing and inspiring enterprise and innovation in the young people who will be vital to the economy of tomorrow.

The competition is part of Grant Thornton’s Educate to Innovate programme, which aims to encourage entrepreneurialism and forge links between businesses and education in the region. Also supporting Umph! this year are Huddersfield Town Football Club, SimVenture, Dickinson Dees, Fantastic Media, Kirklees Council and Huddersfield University.


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