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Project Elephant aims to nurture design talent

A project to develop design and entrepreneurial skills around the Elephant and Castle has been launched by the London College of Communication and international development firm PRI.

The new venture is being set up to provide opportunities for young people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly those who would not normally consider higher education.

Project Elephant will provide training in design and enterprise skills specifically applicable to the creative industries. Participants selected will receive free on-the-job and college-based training at the London College of Communication, learning alongside other students. They will be given the opportunity to generate cutting-edge designs and commercially viable products, namely clothing, household goods and embossed leather goods such as calendars and diaries. This will include limited edition products that will be showcased in some of London's leading retail outlets.

"The ethos behind the project has parallels with Jamie Oliver's 'Fifteen' restaurant or the Fair Trade scheme," says Chris Bendon, Director of External Development at LCC. "We want to provide opportunities for young people who would otherwise not consider a career as an entrepreneur within the creative industries. Their talents will be displayed in a public forum and they will be given the opportunity to build up portfolios of commercial art work."

Victor Politis, president of PRI, adds: "We are excited that this project will enable young designers to realize their potential and develop the enterprise skills necessary to compete in a global marketing while preserving their ideas and originality. Project Elephant's products will appeal to consumers by being conceptual, functional and stylish, with the added bonus of providing them with an opportunity to support enterprise training and promote young talent. "

Project Elephant will enlist the help of industry professionals from the design and marketing-related disciplines to contribute time and expertise and will offer opportunities for corporate sponsorship. The result will be a sustainable business model that is market-driven with well-positioned products.

The project leaders are currently exploring using local shop premises to be used as the "creative hub" of the project. Implementation will start during the first part of 2007 in time for the start of the pilot project in September 2007.

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