From Analytics to Innovation

23rd May, 2012

From Analytics to Innovation — Students at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition Adapt to a Changing Ireland

BT today launched the 2013 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition and is calling on students throughout Northern Ireland to enter their ideas and inventions by the 1st October 2012.

As part of the launch, BT has released research on trends in the projects entered over the past six years (2007-2012 exhibitions) to understand patterns in students’ thinking, how they make decisions and from where they draw their inspiration and subject matter. The extensive research undertaken by BT into over 3,000 qualified projects has revealed that participating students have dramatically evolved their ideas to reflect the constantly shifting economic, environmental and social landscapes across the island of Ireland over this period.

In the 2012 exhibition, 15% of qualified projects (more than one in every seven entered) demonstrated entrepreneurial flair coupled with honed business acumen – however, this figure rose to 30% of projects from Northern Ireland. These students fully understand the value of creating and owning entrepreneurial ideas. In stark contrast, six years ago, only 2% of projects could be considered commercially-viable.

The research findings analysed:

  • Exports: Vital to the recovery of the Irish economy, agriculture remains a key component of the export market. Exhibiting students have shown they understand the benefits of Irish agriculture as a commercially viable opportunity. In 2012, over 60 projects focused on the agri-business sector, representing a four-fold increase on the 2007 entries in this sector.
  • Smart students know the value of smart technology. The 2011 and 2012 exhibitions saw a number of apps developed for the everyday consumer from inception right through to delivery of a commercially-viable business venture.
  • Renewable Energy: There has been a five-fold increase in the number of projects investigating possible alternative and renewable energy sources.
  • Social Media: Students in 2012's exhibition were concerned with the dangers of social media and how to protect themselves online. This represents a significant change in attitude from 2007, when many such entries focused on the benefits and attributes of social media.
  • Environmental Conservation: There has been a five-fold increase in the number of projects geared towards conservation of the environment.
  • Mental Health: The number of projects relating to mental health issues has dramatically increased. In 2007, just two projects referenced the topic, compared with over 20 in the 2012 exhibition.
  • Geographical Trends: A number of counties have continued to increase their volume of entries every year:

    • In 2007, Co. Antrim did not submit any entries to the exhibition versus 17 in 2012
    • Co. Down has increased its volume of entries from six (2007) to 26 (2012)

Colm O'Neill, Chief Executive, BT Ireland, said,

Ireland has faced well-documented challenges in the past number of years, and it is inevitable and unfortunate that our young people will bear some of the burden as the future generation of leaders. But as evidenced by their participation in the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, we have vast numbers of bright young people whose focus is on discovering solutions to our problems, on bettering the economy and society. As we count down to the 49th exhibition, I'd encourage all students to send in their ideas because we’ve proven that the exhibition can lead to brilliant opportunities for those that participate.

MATRIX Chairman, Dr Bryan Keating reinforces why MATRIX is continuing to sponsor the Best Northern Ireland School Award at the exhibition,

MATRIX has a key role in advising on growing a knowledge based economy fit for the challenges of the global market. We recognise that if we are to compete effectively it is crucial that our young people have the science and innovation skills along with a passion to be the engineers and researchers of tomorrow.
I am looking forward to seeing the projects that Northern Ireland will produce for the 2013 competition, and we are delighted to be able to encourage our emerging young innovators by sponsoring this award. It can only auger well for the future.

The University of Ulster will also continue to sponsor the Northern Ireland Special Award. Professor Richard Millar, Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Engineering, University of Ulster said

We are committed to working with the BT Young Scientist to promote the benefits of investing in STEM activities for young people and raise awareness about the unlimited career opportunities in STEM related subjects. BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition enables students to show their potential and, for some, turn innovative ideas into commercial ventures. By challenging and engaging with young people, we can encourage uptake in science and technology related subjects at second and third level education, a key enabler to drive forward and build our knowledge based economy.

At the launch announcement today, BT encouraged students to begin preparing their projects for the 2013 exhibition. The closing date for entry is just over four months away — Monday 1st October 2012 — and BT is hoping to break a new record for entry numbers in 2013.

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will take place in the RDS, Dublin from January 9th — 12th 2013. There are over 120 awards including the overall BT Young Scientist & Technologist of the Year. In addition, BT offers over 30 participating students the opportunity to take part in the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp — an intensive innovation skills camp that BT runs after the exhibition to give students commercialisation skills.

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is organised by BT Ireland, and is supported by a number of valued partners including Analog Devices, Intel, the NI Department of Education, the ROI Department of Education and Skills, and RTE. For more information on the exhibition, log onto



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