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The British Council and People 1st International launch public voting for the ‘Creative Spark’ Big Idea Challenge 2021

7 July 2021

People 1st International have joined forces with the British Council in the largest digital pitch competition, the Creative Spark Big Idea Challenge, that provides thousands of students in Central Asia, South Caucasus and Ukraine with the opportunity to develop and present their own business ideas and enterprise skills.

A panel of national and international judges experienced in enterprise education and creative entrepreneurship have selected the finalists of the Creative Spark Big Idea Challenge and now members of the public can select their favourite new business idea via online voting that is open until Sunday 18 July.

Every year young entrepreneurs compete in three categories: ‘Digital Technology’, ‘Social Impact’ and ‘Creative’. In response to the climate emergency, an extra category has been added this year, ‘Climate Change’, and showcases business ideas that address the cause and effects of climate change. The British Council and People 1st International want to support business ideas (at community, local or national level) that protect our planet and its resources. The winners of each competition category will receive up to £3,000 in professional development grant funding, personalised mentoring support and a chance to participate in a Startup Sprint Course to help them to take their business idea to market.

Fifty universities in the UK, partner with universities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan to take part in the competition. Since the British Council originally designed and launched the competition in 2018, in partnership with the London Metropolitan University, over 920 new business ideas have been generated and over 122,000 members of the general public have taken part in the voting. Last year new ideas ranged from the creation of a fashion brand for people with disabilities, to an accessible device for contactless hand disinfection and a healthy alternative sweet for diabetic children created with natural ingredients.

Richard Everitt, Regional Director Education, Wider Europe comments: ‘Through 50 university partnerships, Creative Spark is helping to transform creativity and enterprise skills into new business ideas, especially for young female entrepreneurs. I am delighted the programme is recognised by the UN and contributing to the UN Year of Creative Economy 2021`

Kate Tetley, International Partnership Lead, People 1st International adds: "People 1st International created a unique partnership with one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious higher education institutions, Queen Margaret University and the new Silk Road International University in Samarkand.

"Through this, we have pioneered approaches to quality standards in entrepreneurial education in Uzbekistan, improved research capacity and guided lecturers in the delivery of creative entrepreneurship. The Big Idea Challenge supports this vision for creative enterprise in Samarkand."

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