STUDENTS from Dorset schools will be designing and selling their own products as part of this year’s Enterprise Challenge.

The programme, run by the Enterprise and Skills Company in association with Bourne-mouth University, will see young teams establish real businesses, appoint managing directors, raise capital and sell their goods at Christmas trade fairs in Bournemouth, Poole and Southampton.

Next year the best teams, products and individuals will be chosen by a panel of professionals, and the winners will attend an awards ceremony.

At the launch event at the university, the Enterprise and Skills Company’s chief executive Karen Arnold said the aim was to ‘inspire and motivate’ young people.

“Enterprise is sometimes seen as being about business, but it is for everybody, across the whole spectrum of education,” she said at the event.

“These young people are volunteering to do this alongside all their studies, it is a real credit to these students.”

Schools taking part include Bournemouth Schools for Girls and Boys, Bishop of Winches-ter Academy, Ferndown Upper School, St Edwards and Queen Elizabeth School, Wimborne.

Products marketed by students have included decorative plaques, cushions made from recycled T-shirts, a rubber duck thermometer and the ‘handy’ – a length of metal tube for carrying shopping bags more comfortably.

“All the money they make will be theirs,” said Ms Arnold.

“And that is great, but the main thing is that they will gained the knowledge and have a fantastic experience.”

At the launch, guest speaker Dr Bryce Dyer – senior lecturer in product design at the university – used the examples of performance bikes and prosthetic limbs to encourage participants to think of how even small changes and simple innovations could have an important impact on the world.

“Innovation is about passion and commitment,” he said.

“Think about how the gift you have – the ability to innovate – can shape the environment.”

The 100 or so students will begin by working with mentors from local businesses, including Lloyd’s Banking, VoIP Unlimited, Rawlings Davies, Abbey Life and Castlepoint, among others.