Next-Generation Entrepreneurs Get to Work at Innovation & Mentoring Skills Camp

Entrepreneurial school students begin an intensive mentoring and innovation skills camp tomorrow at UCD which will equip them with the skills to take their ideas from the schoolroom to the boardroom.

The BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp 2012 brings together 32 second-level students from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland who have demonstrated an ability to understand how and why ideas can be developed into commercially-viable enterprises. The students were selected in January 2012 from over 1,200 secondary school students who competed in this year’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin.

The programme, established in 2010 by BT and delivered with NovaUCD, assists in bridging the gap between education and business — a challenge that Ireland needs to overcome to achieve its goal of developing an innovative economy and generating employment. It also allows BT to provide a next phase of development for the talented students who participate in its annual BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

Shay Walsh, Managing Director, Business, BT Ireland, commented, ‘Ireland has a rich, natural resource in the form of its young people. However, we need to cultivate a climate of commercialisation, and providing students with the tools they need to convert pioneering concepts into feasible solutions is an effective means of engineering. Technology, chemistry and biochemistry are industries in need of a healthy pipeline of talent and ideas, and the Government has reiterated its commitment to research and development in these disciplines. This BT programme is about giving these students the skills and, critically, the confidence, to create and develop the industries of the future.’

During the four-day skills programme at NovaUCD the students will be exposed to business leaders, academics, enterprise boards and a high performance sports personality turned advocate for a ‘re-design revolution.’
They include:

  • Shay Walsh, MD, Business, BT Ireland
  • Caroline Gill, Innovation Education Manager, University College Dublin
  • Dame Ellen MacArthur, record-breaking solo yachtswoman and founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a charity that works with business and education to inspire a re-think of the future
  • James Whelton, CoderDojo
  • Paddy Cosgrave, Dublin Web Summit
  • Greg Treston, Enterprise Ireland
  • John Loftus, BT Business Effectiveness Manager

Dame Ellen, whose Foundation already works with BT, will spend an afternoon with the students taking them through her vision for a ‘circular economy.’ The model encourages business to harness innovation and creativity to enable a positive, restorative economy that will work long term. It replaces the linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model of consumption and requires a re-design of products and services. A recent report featuring analysis by McKinsey estimates the savings of doing so to be worth some US$630bn per annum for Europe alone.

Dame Ellen said, ‘The work we do at the Foundation is all about inspiring young people to re-think the future; the way we make things, the way we manage materials. In a rapidly changing world the most important skills available to us are our creativity and imagination. Initiatives like the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp can help unlock that potential. Working together we can encourage young people like these to re-think, re-design and build a positive future.’

Professor Peter Clinch, UCD Vice-President for Innovation said, ‘UCD is delighted to be working with BT on this exciting and important programme which is being delivered in partnership with NovaUCD. This programme is critically important in embedding an ethos of entrepreneurship and innovation amongst talented second-level students who are inspired by science and engineering.’ He added, ‘It is our hope that these students will go on to use their knowledge and skills, including those learnt this coming week, to find ingenious ways to combine inputs to create new and better products and services and, perhaps one day, their own companies.’ He concluded, ‘At UCD our ambition is to link education, research and innovation more effectively, to inspire and produce more creative and innovative graduates who will go on to convert knowledge, ideas and inventions into the development of life enhancing products, services and policies in a manner that will enrich all aspects of social and economic life in Ireland and beyond.’

Students taking part at the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp will be tasked with a specific group project to develop an outline business approach for a realistic new business start-up scenario. Each team will work with a dedicated BT business mentor who will coach them to develop their business plans and presentation skills. Over the week, they will gain practical business knowledge through a series of workshops and master-classes on subjects including business planning, intellectual property management, design thinking, communications skills, and creative thinking. Team-building skills and one-to-one mentor support for those interested in working in industry or starting their own companies will also be offered.

The week will culminate on Thursday 29th March 2012 when the teams will present their business plans to a judging panel including academics and senior business people. Summer placements at NUI Galway, UCD, and University of Ulster will be available for the winners, and one project will be given the opportunity to present at this year’s Dublin Web Summit.

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