Belfast Telegraph

The Voice of innovation will.i.am sends video message to Northern Ireland young tech entrepreneurs in St George's Market

US singer, producer, entrepreneur, tech innovator and The Voice judge will.i.am, has encouraged Northern Ireland teenagers to “get excited” about a career in the 'entrepreneurial knowledge economy'.

More than 200 young people heard the message at the Generation Innovation Night of Ambition in Belfast on Wednesday night.

Teenagers from 80 schools and colleges came together at St George’s Market for the annual event, organised by the NISP CONNECT team at the Northern Ireland Science Park.

The aim of the evening was to inspire 16-17-year-olds to consider a career in the tech and creative industries by getting them “up close and personal” with some of Northern Ireland’s most influential startup entrepreneurs and tech founders.  This year, company founders taking part included Kyle Gawley, the man behind event app Get Invited; Colin Williams from Sixteen South Productions; and Ian Scott of video-content tagging company Taggled.

The celebrity highlight of the night was the video message from will.i.am, a rapper with a passion for science and technology.

In his message, he said, “I can’t wait to use the things that you guys create. I can’t wait to be knocked off my feet by the things that you guys bring to the world.”

Generation Innovation Programme Manager, Claire Burgoyne said: “There was an incredible buzz of energy and enthusiasm.  When you’re a teenager, it can be very hard to see a path to a future career; it can be really difficult for a young person to imagine themselves ever being the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. 

“Generation Innovation aims to show young people in Northern Ireland that there are success stories right here on their own doorstep; local innovators who have been there, done that – and who are making it, big time!

“This is a unique opportunity to meet these guys, interact with them and pick their brains for advice.  We want these students to go away thinking, ‘I want to be like them – if they can do it, so can I.’

“If Northern Ireland is to continue to develop its entrepreneurial knowledge economy, then it is dependent on the current generation of 16-17 year olds finding their way to careers in the sector – the many lucrative opportunities that are possible there.

“Of course we were thrilled to have a certain ‘will.i.am’ on board and our attendees were just in awe. He is cool, exciting and motivating - he’s really passionate about education, and in particular, STEM education, so he was a perfect addition to our Night of Ambition.”

 

The Generation Innovation event was hosted by BBC Radio 1 DJ Phil Taggart and was supported by the Creative Industries Innovation Fund, Allstate NI, Asidua, Core Systems, Liberty IT, SAP, Total Mobile, Anaeko, Coca Cola, Dow, Queen’s University and  Ulster University.

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