BT to equip young scientists with business savvy

1 Oct 2009

The traditional disconnect between sciencific discovery and commercialising discovery for business success is about to be bridged by BT as part of the upcoming BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

The telecoms company has devised the BT Business of Science & Technology Programme to help bridge the gap between education and business, a critical challenge that Ireland needs to overcome to achieve its ambition of a Smart Economy.

The new BT programme creates a forum for 40 students selected from the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition to be mentored by leading executives and professionals from BT, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Bombardier, Bord Gáis Éireann, IP Innovations, UCD, TCD, Engineers Ireland and Bank of Ireland.

The students will gain practical business knowledge from the mentors through a series of workshops and master classes on subjects such as protecting intellectual capital, global marketing, international business, stakeholder communications, innovation principles, and business strategy.

“The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition has successfully stimulated passion for science, technology, maths and engineering in thousands of students around Ireland and generated exceptionally high-quality research and ideas,” Chris Clark, CEO, BT Ireland said.

“We wanted to take that winning formula and build on it to address both the challenges and opportunities that Ireland faces in its goal to become more competitive.

“We have come up with a practical solution to link business and education by collaborating with key business leaders on the island and sharing our business knowledge and expertise with the next generation of young leaders.”

All participating students will receive a certificate of achievement and the Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe TD, has indicated that summer placements in higher-education institutions will be made available for the Top 6 performers in the programme.

Tánaiste & Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan, who joined BT today at the Trinity Science Gallery to launch the new programme, said: “The BT Business of Science & Technology Programme provides students with the opportunity to participate in a unique and intensive learning experience, where they will be encouraged to apply innovation techniques to solve a business challenge.

“This type of activity fosters fresh business thinking and encourages students to become entrepreneurial. I’m delighted to support this initiative and feel that it will be beneficial in enabling students to apply their scientific and technical knowledge for business purposes,” Coughlan said.

Now in its 46th year, the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition has a rich legacy that extends beyond the exhibition each January.

Its alumni have gone on to achieve great successes in the worlds of business, science and technology.

One example is Patrick Collison, overall winner in 2005, who went on to win second place for Ireland at the EU Young Scientists Exhibition and co-founded a technology company called Auctomatic in 2007. The company was acquired 10 months later for US$5 million. Patrick later served as director of engineering at Live Current Media, and is now working on his second start-up.

Most recently, Rhona Togher and Eimear O’Carroll, runners-up in 2009, have launched a company to help sufferers of Tinnitus regain buzz-free hearing. Their 2009 project ‘The Sound of Silence – An Investigation into Low Frequency Therapy for Tinnitus Sufferers,’ led to the discovery of the first scientifically tested cure for Tinnitus.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Tánaiste Mary Coughlan and Chris Clark, CEO of BT Ireland.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years