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Youth Challenge 2006 Launched

25th October 2005

The hunt has begun to find the Highlands and Islands' answer to Richard Branson.

The ICT Hothouse Youth Challenge 2006 is looking for young entrepreneurs with bright ideas.

The annual Challenge, launched this week, is supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and BT Scotland and invites teams of young people to submit their ideas for information technology and communications of the future.

The most promising ideas are then selected and the teams invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts. After a number of rounds the competition culminates with six teams being chosen to go forward to the Hothouse, an intensive week of team work and expert advice focusing on turning ideas into reality and producing working prototypes of the ICT gadgets of the future.

Youth Challenge Operations Director Rob Murray, of technology solutions provider ITP Solutions, explained more about the Challenge and the inspirational designs produced by youngsters over the last two years.

"The Challenge encourages young people to think out of the box and come up with revolutionary new concepts".

"But it's not just about dreaming up wacky ideas. Youngsters work together to develop their team working skills and are provided with support and technical advise from experts that allows them to turn their brainwaves into viable proposals.

"We know that taking part in the Challenge can really make a difference. Several of the young people who we've worked with have decided as a result to take a completely different career path than they'd originally planned."

Last year's Challenge was carried off by a Charleston Academy team consisting of Andrew Fraser, Alan Hercher and Tom Gallagher, who each won a laptop computer and a trip to BT's research labs at Adastral Park in Martlesham Heath, England. The ambitious lads, who are known as C Security, met interesting new people and learnt about BT products of the future.

"This is the icing on the cake after a great year" Andrew said. "Taking part in the ICT Youth Challenge is a great opportunity for young people and we'd definitely encourage others to get involved this year".

Caitlyn Hughes, BT Scotland's Partnerships Director said "I was really impressed with the winners' grasp of their technology solution and also their plans for turning a piece of technology into a product in the market. They had clearly done a lot of research following the end of the competition and had been motivated to continue developing their concept. Youth Challenge is a great catalyst for getting young people excited about learning."

Youth Challenge Project Director Alistair Murray, of Atlantic Marketing, added "The Challenge is now in its fourth year and we are ramping up activity and adding new sponsors. Participant benefits are considerable and the prizes are simply breathtaking. If you are looking for constructive fun then the challenge is where it is at".

Teams interested in taking part in the Challenge can find out more and submit their ideas on the website: www.youth-challenge.co.uk

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