Fear of failure stopping young people turning ideas into successful innovations

22 Nov 2018

Fear of failure may be deterring young people – and particularly young engineers – from starting their own businesses, according to research released today by the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub. 

Announced at the final of the fifth annual Launchpad competition, held to recognise the most promising young engineering entrepreneurs, the research highlights that a fear of failure and lack of business skills are holding many back from starting their own firms.

A fear of business failure is significantly higher among young people (18 to 24 year olds). More than two fifths (42%) gave this as a reason for not turning an idea into a business, compared to just over a quarter (27%) of 45 to 54 year olds. The findings echo separate research from the Enterprise Hub that found that young engineers (21 to 31 year olds) were especially fearful of failure; over half (56%) cited this as one of their main reasons for not starting a business. The research also asked young engineers what they would find helpful in encouraging them to turn ideas into innovations. Two fifths (41%) said they lacked key business skills and a third (31%) highlighted a need for advice on protecting their ideas.

Ian Shott, chair, Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Committee said:

The UK is a world leader in innovation, and if we are to maintain this in years to come we must inspire young people to gain the confidence to have a go. Entrepreneurial business leadership and management is not a prescriptive standalone set of skills but rather something where many entrepreneurs will benefit from excellent mentorship providing thoughtful and appropriate support along their journey.”

Young people (18 to 24 year olds) are also much less likely than their older peers to say that persistence is important in turning an idea into a business success: 43% of those aged 45-54 and nearly half (49%) of over 55s believed this, compared to just 27% of young people. Contrary to Thomas Edison’s famous belief that success was down to 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, young engineers (21 to 30 year olds) today put that divide at 68% inspiration and only 32% perspiration.

Nate Macabuag, 2018 Launchpad Competition runner-upSince 2013 the Enterprise Hub has worked to discover, celebrate and support the country’s next generation of brilliant engineering entrepreneurs. One of the ways it does this is through the annual Launchpad competition, taking place for the fifth time on 22 November this year.

A winner between the ages of 18 and 25 is selected each year as the recipient of the JC Gammon Award, receiving a £15,000 prize, as well access to training, mentoring, and a network of expert advisors necessary to enable them to develop their innovation. The most successful awardees then serve as role models to inspire the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs, passing on the skills they have gained.

Shott continued:

“The Launchpad competition is just one of the ways in which the Enterprise Hub has a positive impact on young entrepreneurs, providing them with valuable connections and mentoring alongside the access to finance that can be so important when making the leap from idea to innovation.”

To find out more about Launchpad or the Enterprise Hub’s other programmes see here.

About the research

Research among engineers – The research was conducted by Facts International on behalf of Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub between 4 and 9 May 2018. It was conducted through an online poll of 400 respondents in the UK and US, looking at the entrepreneurial spirit of engineers in the two countries and what they believed to be the ingredients of success.

General population omnibus – All other figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2060 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th - 15th November 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Press contact

For further information please contact the Enterprise Hub press office at Good Relations on enterprisehub@goodrelations.co.uk


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