A University of Plymouth student competition with a prize fund of more than £10,000 is launching a new social enterprise category during a national event promoting the sector.

The annual Formation Zone Business Challenge provides the opportunity for entrepreneurial students to generate business ideas and compete for funding to develop them.

For 2015, there are six categories – including Digital and Technology, Creative, Environment, Marine and Health – and students will take part in workshops and online tutorials before submitting their business plans to the judges.

The challenge will be launched as part of Social Saturday tomorrow (October 10), and for the first time a social enterprise category is being added, with support from the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network.

Eleanor Butland, Formation Zone Programme Manager, said:

“We are delighted to be launching the Formation Zone Business Challenge at Social Saturday. Social enterprises are already making a big impact in Plymouth and it is great to see them showcased in an event like this. We are looking for the social entrepreneurs of the future, to help them develop their social enterprise. It is not just about winning a competition, we will help all students taking part develop the skills they need to start Plymouth’s social enterprises of tomorrow.”
Plymouth was the first university worldwide to be awarded the Social Enterprise Mark, and is the lead institution within the Social Enterprise University Enterprise Network, while its pioneering Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise has won numerous national plaudits.

It already runs a number of student and staff competitions encouraging social entrepreneurship, and adding a social enterprise category to the challenge further emphasises that commitment.

Michelle Virgo, of Plymouth Social Enterprise Network, said:

“As a Social Enterprise City, Plymouth is already leading the way in social enterprise. It is great to see that Formation Zone, and Plymouth University, are supporting Social Saturday and we are delighted to be able to partner with Formation Zone to find Plymouth’s social entrepreneurs of the future.”

The Formation Zone Business Challenge benefits from the generous support of Santander Universities, who also provide a range of scholarship opportunities for University staff and students. It allows the challenge to offer generous awards, with students competing to win cash prizes of up to £1,500 and business start-up support worth over £1,000.