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Posted 28 March 2012

Next generation entrepreneurs begin innovation bootcamp

32 entrepreneurial second-level students from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have been selected to take part in the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp 2012. The intensive mentoring and innovation skills camp at University College Dublin aims to equip the students with the skills to take their ideas from the schoolroom to the boardroom.

The BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp is delivered in association with NovaUCD, the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre at University College Dublin.

Pictured (far right) at NovaUCD at the start of the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp 2012 are Saoirse Nash, St Mary's College, Derry, Shay Walsh, MD, Business, BT Ireland and Professor Peter Clinch, UCD Vice-President for Innovation.

The aim is to help students to bridge the gap between education and business - a challenge that Ireland needs to overcome to achieve its goal of developing an innovative economy.

The BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp acts as the ‘next phase’ of development for the talented students who participate in the annual BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

The 32 students were selected for the bootcamp from over 1,200 secondary school students who competed in this year’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin.

“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,” said Shay Walsh, Managing Director, Business, BT Ireland.

“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 meet with and hear from business leaders, academics, enterprise boards and a high performance sports personality turned advocate for a ‘re-design revolution’ including:

  • 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.

“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,” said Dame Ellen.

“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.”

“It is our hope that these students will go on to use their knowledge and skills... to find ingenious ways to combine inputs to create new and better products and services and, perhaps one day, their own companies.”

“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 course of the bootcamp, 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.

On the final day of the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp (29th March 2012), each team will present their business plans to a judging panel including academics and senior business people.  Summer placements at NUI Galway, University College Dublin (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.


BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries.  Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services.  BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group.  BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

NovaUCD, the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre, is the hub of innovation and knowledge transfer activities at University College Dublin. NovaUCD is responsible for the commercialisation of intellectual property arising from UCD research and for the development of co-operation with industry and business. NovaUCD as a purpose-built centre also nurtures new technology and knowledge-intensive enterprises.

NovaUCD has been funded through a unique public-private partnership that includes AIB Bank, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Enterprise Ireland, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, UCD and Xilinx.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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