Enterprising secondary school students from High Wycombe are literally getting their name in lights after inventing a new gadget to give people a cheap way to hook up neon lighting.
The invention has been so successful that a group of Year 10s from The Highcrest Academy is being flown out to Lithuania to showcase it at an international trade fair.
The 12 students, who have formed a Young Enterprise company called Mörk Valo, have already sold dozens of the kit, which retails at £4.99 and costs £2.89 to produce.
They set up a stall recently at the Eden Shopping Centre, where the majority of stock was sold, and several kits were also sold at their school’s Christmas fair.
On Friday, the group competed in a Young Enterprise area final at Bucks New University, and tomorrow (Tuesday), five of the students will be flown on a three-day trip to Lithuania along with two teachers to appear at the international trade fair.
Christopher Humphries, business teacher and Young Enterprise co-ordinator at Highcrest, believes Highcrest will be the only UK school represented at the international fair, and he also believes the school is the only one in the area doing the enterprise scheme for Year 10s as opposed to Sixth Formers.
He said: “I adopted a hands-off approach to this scheme. It was totally up to the students what product they sold.
“The idea is that they experience either success or failure, depending on how they approach the work – and in this case, they have clearly been a success.”
Humza Akhtar, 15, who is managing director of Mörk Valo, explained the inspiration for the kit came after a visit to the God’s Own Junkyard in London, which exhibits neon artwork.
“We thought neon signs are quite expensive and we thought we could come up with a simpler alternative for people to use,” he explained.
“We sold 25 kits at the Eden centre. We believe that the reason why we had a successful outcome was because our product was new and unique.”
The success of the project comes after Highcrest was named last year as the UK winner of a major European schools award project.
Assistant head teacher Gaynor Weldon was flown out by competition organisers to Riga in Latvia on September 22 to collect Highcrest’s prize in the Entrepreneurial School Awards.
Mrs Weldon, who will be accompanying the group this time to Lithuania, said: “It is fantastic that our students show such a strong aptitude for entrepreneurship.
“This should serve them very well in later life.”