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Who are the next North East entrepreneurs?

The ‘Dragons Den’ awaits the chosen few this summer, as a leading North East organisation seeks to find the entrepreneurs of the future.

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum, based in Jesmond, Newcastle, are giving aspiring local entrepreneurs the opportunity to win a prize worth over £17,000 to develop their fledgling businesses.

Now in its sixth year, the If We Can You Can 2013 challenge, which is being launched at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema on 23 April, is looking to find the best early stage enterprises in the North East. After submitting business plans, which will be judged by an experienced panel of experts, finalists will be invited into the Dragons Den at the end of June, with three entrepreneurs going through to a public vote.

The rewards to the winners are numerous:

  • Extensive media coverage.
  • The opportunity to access £10,000 worth of ‘First Deal’ investment from Rivers Capital (with the potential of a further £150,000 investment!).
  • Four quarterly half-day financial mentoring sessions with Yorkshire Bank, including how to approach a bank for lending, writing a business plan and corporate responsibility, worth up to £3,000.
  • Up to £1,000 legal advice and mentoring support from Ward Hadaway.
  • Two hours of accountancy, tax and growth mentoring from an expert at PwC, worth £2,000.
  • Full IT audit, advice and up to £1,000 of Onyx Group’s data hosting solutions.
  • A complimentary place at the Entrepreneurs’ Forum November 2013 and May 2014 annual conferences, worth £395.

The annual challenge will see three regional competitions run in partnership with The Journal, The Northern Echo and the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette.

Nigel Mills, chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “The guests who join us at our breakfast launch of If We Can You Can 2013 will all be playing a part in identifying and supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs as they begin their journey towards creating jobs and wealth and becoming the North East success stories of the future.”

Nigel added: “There are two key ingredients that all entrepreneurial activity needs to survive and grow: iconic figures to look up to who prompt the thought: ‘If they can, I can’; and mentors to help guide entrepreneurs on their journey.

“Providing mentors who can share their experience and pass on knowledge to emerging business owners is central to the Forum’s work, critical to IWCYC and vital to the growth of the regional economy.

“Market research shows that 70 per cent of companies that are mentored survive for up to five years. By introducing new entrepreneurs to those who have already been on the journey, we hope many more will turn their passion, enthusiasm and ideas into sustained success.”

The winners of IWCYC 2013 will be announced at the Forum’s gala dinner and awards on September 19.

To apply, please complete the application form on If we can you can and submit your business plan by 7 June.

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