Pupils from three Midland schools are celebrating after being chosen to represent the region in the national Young Enterprise competition.
The sixth-form students from Ashlawn, Lawrence Sherriff and Rugby High School for Girls beat competition from across the region to win the prize for best overall company at the awards ceremony at Staffordshire University.
They will now go on to compete with other regional winners in a national competition in London.
The firm set up by the students, called Stirling Kids Kitchen, teaches children how to cook using an innovative cookery book that tests their alphabet skills.
The book – which retails at £5 a copy – contains 26 recipes, one for each letter of the alphabet, and is laminated for a wipe clean finish.
The stiffened back page also acts as a book-stand to make it easy to use in the kitchen.
The students in Stirling Kids Kitchen sold 65 of the books as part of their Young Enterprise challenge, but the number is set to triple after they secured a deal to sell the books in an independent book store in Rugby.
They are also planning to put them on sale online through eBay in the near future.
Student Nathan Ray, the managing director of the group, said he was delighted to be representing the West Midlands in the national competition.
“To represent Coventry and Warwickshire in the regional finals was a great achievement, but this really tops it all off,” he said.
“Every member of the team brings something different to the business and we have worked so hard to build the products and forge new partnerships. It’s certainly given us a taste for enterprise and we want more.
“Winning the overall title means we are now heading to London for the UK National Final on July 14 and 15 and plan to fly the flag for the West Midlands with pride at the Park Lane Hotel in London. There is even the chance we could get through to the European competition in Stockholm.”
In addition to presenting to the judges on their stands and in a one-on-one ‘Apprentice’ environment, the students of Stirling also had to confront a Big Brother style diary room to answer searching questions about their experiences.
The footage of the diaries, filmed in Staffordshire University’s TV Centre, will be used to encourage businesses and schools to participate in the competition in the future.
Staffordshire University’s Ruth Chell said: “Stirling Kids Kitchen is a fantastic business idea and reflects the growing demand for educational products that promote healthy eating.
“It is one thing having an excellent product, but what our entrepreneurs have done so well is laid the business foundations and really maximized its potential.
“Young Enterprise is all about giving youngsters the chance to learn and succeed through doing and the awards programme is a fantastic way to cultivate the entrepreneurs and business leaders of tomorrow.”
Other winners at the awards ceremony included the King Edward VI Handsworth School, in Birmingham, which won prizes for innovation and environmental enterprise for its team’s range of recycled goods.
The Junk’d business made purses, keyrings and cups out of recycled juice cartons, crisp packets and sweet wrappers.
Young Enterprise, which has been running for more than 40 years, is the UK’s leading business and enterprise education charity.
It aims to encourage young people in schools and colleges to get involved in the world of business from an early age.
Staffordshire University was recently awarded £3.3 million for an Employer Engagement project to support more start-ups, with a target of creating 180 new firms over the next three years.