By Daniel Hunter

StartUp Britain is set to hit the road for a month-long bus tour designed to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The national enterprise campaign’s double-decker bus will visit 40 universities and further education colleges across the UK, carrying a team of business experts, mentors, authors and entrepreneurs to get face-to-face with the increasing number of young people hoping to set up a business.

It will also deliver information and application details to the 10,000 young people it hopes to come into contact with, about the £82m StartUp Loans scheme for people aged 18 to 24, which could see young entrepreneurs borrow up to £10,000 if their application is approved. There will be an opportunity to apply for the loan on board the bus and everyone will receive a free StartUp Loans Kit with a guide on how to start a business and over £200 of StartUp offers.

StartUp Britain co-founder Emma Jones said: “We are seeing more and more young people setting up businesses. Research has shown eight out of ten young people think about setting up a business these days as a career path, or a way to turn a hobby into a money-spinning idea.

“These young people represent the future of business and our economic prosperity — that’s why it’s so important to offer them support by delivering the message that they can set up a business, there is support out there for them — and that we’ll be with them every step of the way, cheering loudly!”

Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Adviser said: “Many young people have the drive and ambition to create a business, yet don’t know how to put this into action. The StartUp Britain bus tour will do much to connect many of them to the support they need as well as help them sign up for a StartUp Loan. In doing so, it will help to transform the enterprise potential of a new generation.”

A recent report into entrepreneurs in the UK revealed a significant rise in the number of young people aged 18 to 29 engaged in early stage entrepreneurial activity. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report showed that in 2010, 5.3% of young people aged 18 to 29 were in early stage entrepreneurial activity. That figure rose to 7.8% last year — an increase of a third in twelve months.

Emma Jones added: “If we can keep up the pace of start-up growth, it will be a significant contribution to UK PLC moving forward. This generation has been disproportionately affected by the down turn, with more than a million people aged 18 to 24 facing unemployment.

“The StartUp Loans offer finance coupled with expert mentoring, critical if we’re going to get these young fledgling businesses off the ground. We hope our teams of entrepreneurs and mentors will be able to instil passion and confidence to these young people who need to hear this message right now. Young people are wired for enterprise with a global mind set to embrace technology and take their business to the world.”

The tour, which kicks off at Youth Enterprise Live on October 12, will start its college tour at Lewisham College and visit two colleges a day, including Oxford College, Keele University, Reading University, the University of Suffolk, Telford College of Arts & Technology, Middlesbrough College, Glasgow Caledonian University and the Cardiff & Vale College, finishing the four-week tour at the Queen Victoria Square in Hull.

The tour is sponsored by .CO Internet, the company behind the fast-growing .CO domain and the Gazelle Colleges Group, a network of 19 colleges committed to fostering entrepreneurialism in the further education sector .

Juan Diego Calle, founder & CEO of .CO said: “We're excited to be a sponsor of the Startup Britain bus tour and to help inspire the next generation of great entrepreneurs in the UK to build their dreams online."

Fintan Donohue, CEO of Gazelle and CEO of North Hertfordshire College said: “The Gazelle Colleges Group is delighted to have partnered with StartUp Britain for this autumn's bus tour. Gazelle believes that it is vital to foster a new generation of social and commercial entrepreneurs who can bring innovation to existing business and create their own employment with confidence and ambition, and FE colleges play an integral role in achieving this goal. The StartUp Britain bus tour will be visiting 18 Gazelle Colleges across the country and the entrepreneurs and business experts boarding the bus will offer our students valuable advice and inspire this entrepreneurial mind set.”

The start-up campaign is backed by top firms, including Dell, Intel, Intuit, AXA, PayPal and Magento Go, who will all be on board the bus.

Mark Little, UK MD at Intuit, said: “We need more young people to think about setting up a business and what better way of supporting and encouraging them than by providing advice on how they can best manage their finances from the word go?

“Not only will this tour give vital help to young start-ups and up and down the country, but it will spur young people on to give the UK an economic boost.”

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