Minisoft and TIC From Wick Aim To Impress Techno Judges
14th March 2009
Minisoft and TIC from Wick are just two of 16 teams getting ready for the next stage of the annual Youth Challenge in the Highlands and Islands. The competition helps to encourage young people become entrepreneurial by focusing on ideas in the information, communications and technology sector.
This year a record 156 teams entered, comprising 599 individual team members and judging started just before Christmas. Then 33 teams were invited to take part in a First Pitch at the end of January. The children used video conferencing (VC) links, demonstrating technology in action, to pitch their entries to a panel of judges.
The VC links were arranged by Youth Challenge sponsor UHI, the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands, which uses the technology to bring students and others together for classes and events throughout it's partnership of colleges and research centres in the Highlands and Islands.
Catherine Shearer, UHI marketing manager, said: "Technologies such as video conferencing are becoming increasingly important to businesses in rural areas like the Highlands and Islands. So it's particularly appropriate that the ICT stars of the future are using video conferencing for the Challenge."
Sixteen teams were selected to go through to the next stage and they are: Unfamouse 5, Sanday; TIC and Minisoft, Wick; The Energisers, Thurso; KLACH, Dornoch; Passion, Ullapool; Irish Siblings, Invergordon; Siren, Plockton; Minnie Mites, Mallaig; Scottish Sensations and Out and About, Fort William; GSG and Alex Dunning Team, Oban; Fly5, Campbeltown; G-Force, Buckie; and Visual Radiance, Keith.
Futuristic ideas include an in-flight communication system, an eco friendly phone accessory and an innovative shopping trolley, all welcomed by competition sponsors BT, Microsoft, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and UHI.
Raymond O'Hare of Microsoft said: "We're delighted to be involved in this activity as the competition directly addresses key areas of innovation and skills and it's essential to offer support to young people with bright ideas."
David Brossard from BT added: "The strong flow of ICT business ideas from young people in the Highlands and Islands is proof of the area's dynamism and is a positive indicator for the local economy in the future. The Youth Challenge helps young people gain valuable skills."
These skills will be further tested at the next stage at a face-to-face event on March 17 at the Spa Pavilion, Strathpeffer, when the 16 teams will be expected to expand on their ideas and come up with technical specifications.
John MacKenzie, HIE business transformation development manager said: "Five of the best will be chosen for a week-long Hot House in June and all the finalists will receive substantial technology prizes. Three teams will also get trips of a lifetime. HIE take one team out to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston; BT hosts another at its research and development centre in Suffolk, whilst the third jet off to Microsoft's development headquarters in Seattle"
Youth Challenge Director Alistair Murray added: "Youth Challenge encourages team work and is fun. Schools tell us they notice a real change in their students - the competition brings them out of their shells and can even help them with exams!!"
Minisoft and TIC certainly hope they make the Hot House final, and they are working hard to make it happen.
Minisoft and TIC are two teams from Wick.
"Left to right are: Team MiniSoft - Greg Polson, Kyle Gunn, Matthew Sinclair and
Team TIC Declan Mackay, John Coghill, Donnachadh Pellow"