Students from schools in Chichester, Lancing, Midhurst, Petworth, Steyning and Worthing impressed judges in the Coastal West Sussex Young Enterprise awards.
Winners were revealed at a ceremony at The Body Shop in Littlehampton, where Erica Rose, the company’s international quality director, gave an inspiring speech.
More pictures: Coastal West Sussex Young Enterprise award winners revealed
Felis from Davison High School for Girls in Worthing won Best Company South Downs and Sussex Candle Company from Midhurst Rother College won Best Company Arun and Chichester.
They will now represent the Coastal West Sussex area at the Sussex final on May 1 at Ricardo Technical Centre in Shoreham.
Matt Ryan, Young Enterprise manager, said: “We had some great companies started up by students in the newly-titled Coastal West Sussex area this year and the judges were incredibly impressed with the products and services they had developed, along with the presentations they gave at the Loft at Watersmead Showcase event.
“The awards highlighted how the Young Enterprise Company Programme can inspire young people to become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and help them develop practical business skills while they are still at school.”
The winning team from Davison sold original handmade cat-themed greetings cards and the winning Midhurst Rother College team sold eco-friendly soya wax scented candles.
Other teams taking part were Little Eden from Davison High School, Wellness Enterprise from Lancing College, Zero from Steyning Grammar School, Crazy Candle Company from Bishop Luffa School in Chichester and Feather Feed from Seaford College near Petworth.
Judge Jane de Vos, who owns the virtual assistant comany Latchgate, said: “The school teams across the two areas worked really hard this year in coming up with wonderful products and in keeping with the theme of helping the environment.
“The teams were interviewed by us and completed presentations which were of very high standards. It was really hard to pick the winners and I hope the students realise how much they can achieve with so much drive and determination.
“Well done YE for keeping this programme going, it is an asset to any student who participates.”
Best Customer Service: Wellness Enterprise, Lancing College
Best Teamwork: Crazy Candle Company, Bishop Luffa
Best Company Report: Feather Feed, Seaford College
Best Presentations: Little Eden, Davison High School
Ivor Page Award: Midhurst Rother College
Young Achiever Award: Hannah from Felis, Davison High School
Best Product: Zero, Steyning Grammar School
Best Company Arun and Chichester: Sussex Candle Company, Midhurst Rother College
Best Company South Downs: Felis, Davison High School
Worthing mayor Paul Baker, who was a special guest, said: “The mayoress and I were delighted to attend the Youth Enterprise awards, finding the whole event extremely interesting.
“The presentations of the different companies from all the schools taking part were of a very high professional standard and the detailed knowledge they displayed when questioned showed how they had researched their product and market.
“I have no doubt that the companies they had formed would more than survive in a commercial market. The whole event was inspiring and motivational.”
Students across the country aged 15 to 19 have set up and run a real business over the academic year as part of Company Programme. They have made all the decisions about their business, from deciding on the company name and product to creating a business plan, managing their finances and selling their products.
Michael Mercieca, chief executive of Young Enterprise said: “The Coastal West Sussex area showcase joint event for Arun and Chichester, and South Downs, marks the first stage in a national competition to find this year’s Best Young Enterprise Company.
“It’s the ultimate measure of many months of hard work from the students, representing their creativity, resilience and business acumen.
“You don’t get this stuff from a text book and we are greatly encouraged by our research which shows that 95 per cent of company alumni go on to education, employment or training - 7 per cent higher than the national average of 88 per cent.”