WHEN you watch TV’s Dragon’s Den the temptation is to believe that all clever innovation comes from established business and takes years to develop.

That impression holds whether it’s the ride-on hand luggage suitcase, the detangling hairbrush, the spicy barbecue sauce or the revolutionary tanning lotion, to name just a few memorable business ideas that have emerged.

Along with that is the impression that it’s mainly traditional business people who generally come up with these inventions.

An annual event in Bolton though, reinforced the suspicion that innovative ideas can be hatched and developed by anyone, in a relatively short time. And that there are some very bright minds out there just waiting for the chance to shine.

The occasion was one of the Enterprise Days run by Bolton Lads and Girls Club’s National Citizenship Scheme and held at the University of Bolton.

NCS is open to all teenagers aged 15 to 17, offering a chance for young people to discover who they are and what they can do. Locally, it involves various projects, a residential stay (in Scotland this year) and time living together in small groups.

It gives young people a chance to be themselves and to work as a team. In Bolton, it translates to a large number of youngsters in a well-organised scheme.

The Enterprise Day involves local businessmen and women in Dragon’s Den-style days of team-building. In groups, the youngsters come up with a potentially successful business idea, then pitch it to the Dragons who choose the best and most viable idea.

The brief this year was to select from retro ideas, the Teasmade, Discman, Tamagotchi and Boppit to bring one up to date. The groups had a couple of hours to plan, create a business strategy and a pitch to attract the Dragons’ approval.

They had to identify their chosen market, costings and profits and come up with marketing plans and the results of the 10 groups proved fascinating.

The four Dragons on my day were each assigned groups, joining BLGC’s staff recruited for the duration of NCS (often university students on their summer break). The brainstorming was interesting as the natural leaders and followers emerged but, in general, contributions came from everyone and it was a lively exercise.

Their pitches were quite revelatory. The trusty Teasmade became an all-purpose gadget with an Alexa system, multi-drink choices and info screens.

One group had turned the Tamagotchi from a needy virtual reality pet into a easy and practical way of teaching childcare.

The Discman morphed into a hi-tech music and visual entertainment system and the Boppit game helped boost children’s confidence and tackled mental health issues.

All kept an eye on the environment and sustainability while coming up with some really savvy marketing ideas using social influencers, YouTube and targeted TV programmes.

While it was difficult to choose one winner, the overall impression was great optimism for the future. With these sharp minds operating, the world of business could well be in safe hands.