A unique 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 2016 programme, created by the team behind Digital DNA, launched today in conjunction with official travel partner Aer Lingus. Digital Futures 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.
The programme, now in its fourth year, has inspired thousands of young people across Northern Ireland to consider a career in digital technology or to embrace the booming startup industry in Northern Ireland by creating their own digital products.
Digital Futures, run in partnership with Sentinus, will offer a once in a lifetime prize for the winners – a trip to Silicon Valley to visit some of the biggest technology companies in the world where they will gain valuable advice on how to further develop their digital solution for business or consumer use.
The six-week roadshow will engage thousands of young people across schools in Northern Ireland. The pupils will develop their concept and start to design the solution during the roadshow and will be selected to come to City Hall on 6 December, where they’ll present to some of the world’s leading digital thinkers from companies like Deloitte Digital, Accenture, Total Mobile and Allstate NI.
Speaking at the launch of Digital Futures, Digital DNA Founder & Managing Director Gareth Quinn said: “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.
“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.
“We look forward to seeing this year’s projects and selecting the winning team that will go to California in March.”
Speaking on behalf of Aer Lingus Andrea Hunter Business Development Manager said; ‘There’s no doubt that Northern Ireland is a hotbed for incubating remarkable business talent and entrepreneurs.
‘We are delighted to be able to facilitate flights to San Francisco from our Dublin base, for the second year, to help these young business leaders of the future learn from the very best minds in the digital technology sector today.”
Sentinus Director Bill Connor added: “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.”
Since launching in 2013, Digital Futures has engaged with 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 San Francisco as part of their prize and visited Uber, Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, Evernote, Google and Stanford University to meet the world’s leading digital thinkers.
Pictured: Peter McDaid, Head of IT, Dominican College, Sam Stuart & Liam Broadway, Digital Futures 2015 Winners, Andrea Hunter Business Development Manager Aer Lingus & Gareth Quinn, Founder & Managing Director Digital DNA