By Marcus Leach in Sheffield
The giant clock at Kings Cross St. Pancras tells me it is a little after 7:30am and, as hoards of commuters arrive to begin their day, a gathering of people are preparing to board a train headed for Sheffield. But it is no ordinary train, and it is by no means an ordinary congregation.
The train in question is the newly named Entrepreneur Express, and the already excited congregation consists of some of the country's leading entrepreneurs. Other than their respective successes they all have something else in common; MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival - the UK's premier business festival for entrepreneurs and business.
Amongst those to take their places on the train are Julie Meyer of Ariadne Capital, Pernille Bruun-Jensen of Intuit, Melody Hossaini from The Apprentice, Mark Prisk of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), Joe Cohen from Seatwave and co-founder of Start Up Britain Duncan Cheatle. All are visibly excited for what lies ahead, and all are champions for the country's small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
The overriding message from various interviews on the journey up to Sheffield is that if, as the government keeps telling us, the country will be led out of its current economic strife by entrepreneurs, then we need to change the way we educate the youth of our nation.
This was a point emphasised by Business Secretary Vince Cable, who was attending the festival to chair, amongst other events, a panel debate about the barriers facing young entrepreneurs today.
"The government are well aware of the changes that need to be made in the education system," he told Fresh Business Thinking.
"From after school clubs and school lessons, right through to further education we need to focus on equipping the next generation with the skills and knowledge they need to bring, and maintain, enterprise to the forefront of the economy."
From the 'Entrepreneur Exhibition' in the Mecure Hotel, through to the multitude of workshops and keynote speeches running over three locations there is a buzz of excitement and energy, as well as a genuine belief that we are on the right track to changing the mindset of those charged with becoming the next wave of entrepreneurs.
Fostering an entrepreneurial culture is an ongoing process, and will naturally take time. But with the right people behind the movement it is an achievable goal that will go a long way to returning Britain to the forefront of industry, enterprise and manufacturing.
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