Fiona joins the whizzkids academy

Fiona Neil with Dragon’s Den Entrepreneur Peter Jones and Alex Pratt, SEEDA board member

Fiona Neil with Dragon’s Den Entrepreneur Peter Jones and Alex Pratt, SEEDA board member

First published in Jobs News Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Business Editor. Call me on 01865 425460

An aspiring teenage entrepreneur is celebrating after winning a place at a top training school for would-be whizzkids.

Fiona Neill, 17, from Towersy, has been accepted into the new National Enterprise Academy — the brainchild of Dragon’s Den star Peter Jones.

Ms Neill, a pupil at Lord Williams School in Thame, said: ““I’ve always been interested in business and entrepreneurship. When I was 15 I took part in the BBC’s Junior Dragon’s Den.

“So I was absolutely delighted when this opportunity came up. The interview was really tough, but it was worth it when I heard I’d been accepted into the academy a day before my 17th birthday — it was my best present ever!”

Ms Neill is one of 28 youngsters to participate in the academy’s first full-time course, the NEA PAthfinder.

The NEA is backed by more than £2m in funding from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and the Pathfinder will be delivered in a number of different educational and business locations in Buckinghamshire, including the Amersham Campus of Amersham and Wycombe College, Aylesbury College, Bucks New University and Green Park Training and Conference Centre.

A national roll-out of regional hubs and satellite academies will then follow over the next four years.

By drawing on the experience of ‘real life’ business people and entrepreneurs, the NEA has been set up to equip teenagers with the skills and attitude to succeed in modern business.

Mr Jones said: "I am passionate about this project — it has been a long held dream of mine to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurial talent, particularly those who are disadvantaged in some way.

“Through continued public and private sector partnership, we can help make the UK one of the most enterprising economies in the world. Now, more than ever, it is world-class enterprise education which will ensure the future success of our economy."

Oona Muirhead, executive director for Skills and Sustainable Prosperity at SEEDA, said: “We are completely behind the creation of the National Enterprise Academy. This exciting development is aimed at getting young people onto the ladder of setting up their own business as well as being creative employees.”

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