One hundred of Northern Ireland’s most innovative and entrepreneurial students have become the first members of the ‘Generation Innovation’ network to encourage them to make opportunities for themselves without emigrating.
The initiative, launched by NISP CONNECT with representatives of the local business community, hopes to stop the brain drain from Northern Ireland by building a physical and online network of Northern Ireland’s brightest students before, during and after their third-level studies.
Membership benefits include invites to annual high-profile networking events and access to an online network letting members exchange ideas, post news on their development and seek internships and business relationships.
Members can also be guided by some of Northern Ireland’s top business people from science and technology companies.
“The Generation Innovation initiative is about developing a relationship with the young people of Northern Ireland and highlighting to them, through the use of positive role models, the opportunities that are available on their doorstep,” said Steve Orr, director of NISP CONNECT.
“Too many of NI’s gifted young minds and natural entrepreneurs are leaving our shores for what they believe are ‘bigger and better’ career opportunities. Recent research published by the Department of Employment and Learning suggests that as many as six out of 10 who leave to study in Britain never return here to work.
“Many others only retain fleeting relationships with home and subsequently miss out on opportunities to pursue their careers or start a business here. If our economy is to grow we need to establish a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem where innovation, vision and talent flourish and where our young people can play their part in creating a positive economic future,” he said.
After a nomination process across all Northern Ireland secondary schools and colleges, more than 100 students were selected to attend the first Generation Innovation networking event.
Numerous technology figures, such as Gail Power, director of Online Sales Operations at Facebook, and Hugh Cormican from Cirdan Imaging, were at the inaugural event to share their experiences with this younger generation.
"My hope for the students of ‘Generation Innovation’ is that they look to the wide range of opportunities available to them,” said Power.
“I want them all to think big. This amazing bunch of young students has been selected because they have shown an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, and through the application of these qualities and strengths, each one of them can contribute to Northern Ireland’s economic success,” she said.