Belfast Telegraph

Roadshow seeks out young innovators and entrepreneurs

By Staff Reporter

A programme aimed at finding the next generation of young and innovative entrepreneurs kicks off this week, when the Digital Futures roadshow rolls into schools across the country.

The six week programme, created by the team behind Digital DNA, challenges young people aged 12-17 across Northern Ireland to work in teams, putting their creative minds together to overcome a challenge or harness an opportunity faced by businesses or consumers through digital technology.

In partnership with the educational charity Sentinus and Aer Lingus, the competition offers the winning pupils a trip to Silicon Valley next March to visit some of the biggest technology companies in the world and the opportunity to gain valuable advice on how to further develop their digital idea.

"Northern Ireland has a rich history of innovation and we are hugely passionate about our Digital Futures programme which, through our fantastic partners, continues to inspire our young people to embrace invention and entrepreneurship," said Digital DNA founder Gareth Quinn.

He added: "Digital technology has an increasing role in all our lives and we are very fortunate to be able to work alongside so many companies in the private sector that share our passion to create digital leaders of the future."

Since launching in 2013, Digital Futures has involved thousands of school pupils across the country, including Liam Broadway and Sam Stuart from Dominican College in Portstewart, who won the competition in 2015 after developing an app aimed at increasing productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

The boys travelled to California where they visited Uber, Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, Evernote, Google and Stanford University to meet the world's leading digital thinkers.

Sentinus director Bill Connor said: "Digital Futures offers young people across Northern Ireland the chance to use real-world technology to enhance their learning, while developing digital skills that will enable them to become valuable contributors to the local economy - now and in the future.

"The challenge helps build an understanding of digital technology among young people and provides them with the opportunity to engage with some of the world's leading digital experts."

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