PM backs academy opened by star of 'Dragons' Den'

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The Independent Online

The difference between us and the Americans, according to one of this country's best-known multi-millionaires, is that we say "can I?" where they say "I can".

That man is Peter Jones, telecoms mogul and star of BBC2's Dragons' Den, who was yesterday exhorting British teenagers to be a bit more gung-ho about entrepreneurship at the launch of a business academy, which Mr Jones will partly fund.

The importance of his words was evident in the line-up of politicians listening to him at the Swanlea School Business and Enterprise College in east London: Gordon Brown, the Chancellor Alistair Darling, and the Business Secretary John Hutton. The event had been planned as a curtain raiser to the publication today of the Government's White Paper on enterprise, which will accompany Mr Darling's budget.

At the National Enterprise Academy, just outside London, teenagers will be taught everything they need to know about starting their own business.

"There is a stark difference in the entrepreneurial mindset between the UK and the US," said Mr Jones. "Here, there tends to be a 'can I?' approach, whereas in the US the 'I can' belief is instilled from an early age." The academy, he added, will be "a catalyst for cultural change in the UK".

The first academy will open next January, offering studentsthe chance to learn from businessmen how to start and build their own companies. The Government is contributing up to £4m towards the £8m cost over the next three years, with the rest of the money coming from Mr Jones.