Soil health project scoops top award at BT business bootcamp for teens

23 Mar 2023

The members of the winning team NutriSoil. Image: Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography

All of the 30 participants in this year’s BT business bootcamp were prize winners already thanks to BTYSTE 2023.

A group of young sci-tech entrepreneurs behind a project called NutriSoil won Best Group at this year’s BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp.

The group members won the award for their project which examines the long-term effects of a more sustainable method of keeping nutrients in the soil as an alternative to an artificially-made granule.

The winning group was made up of second-level students from around the country. They are: Sean Allen, a fifth-year student from Roscommon Community College, Roscommon; Rosheen Sharma, a third-year student from Rockford Manor Secondary School, Dublin; Julian Lewandowski, a fourth-year student from Sutton Park School, Dublin; Erica O’Brien Murray, a fifth-year student from Loreto Secondary School, Dublin; and Alanna Hayes, a fifth-year student from Social Mhuire, Clare.

They were not the only award winners on the day. Fifth-year student from Newbridge College, Co Kildare, Tara Mulhall, impressed the judges to win Best Individual.

Tara Mulhall holding a trophy.

Tara Mulhall. Image: Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography

The BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp is linked to the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) which also happens annually.

All of this year’s bootcamp participants were prize winners at BTYSTE 2023.

In total, six teams of five students took part in the intensive four-day bootcamp which aims to give promising young people the opportunity to develop commercial skills and work with their peers to find out what it is like to bring an idea to market.

NovaUCD, the innovation and start-up hub of University College Dublin, is involved in the running of the bootcamp.

Students presented their ideas to people from the Irish sci-tech business scene. These judges included Silicon Republic’s CEO Ann O’Dea as well as Shay Walsh, MD of BT Ireland; Dr Tony Scott, co-founder of the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition; and Anna-Marie Turley, department manager for entrepreneurship and HPSU, Enterprise Ireland.

Reflecting on the calibre of projects this year, BT Ireland’s Walsh said: “It has been inspiring to watch how the students have applied the skills they’ve learned to develop these projects into a business proposition in the space of four days.”

“The projects chosen for this year’s BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp reflect issues that are top of the agenda for our young people, from looking at environmental and sustainability issues to the way in which students learn.”

Past participants of the bootcamp have gone on to found companies such as Protex AI and Evervault.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.