Six young people from across Northern Ireland have secured their place on a high-profile summer internship, in their own start-up business, at the Northern Ireland Science Park.
The Science Park’s Generation Innovation programme is hosting six teenage interns this summer who will each have a unique opportunity to progress their own start-up business throughout July and August.
The Internship Prize Fund is a collaboration between the NI Science Park and two local entrepreneurs, Tom O’Gorman and Jim Finnegan. Each of the six finalists has been awarded a summer internship worth £2,000. In addition, the six teenage entrepreneurs have been assigned a mentor and will receive 8 weeks of business coaching, including marketing, finance, legal and pitch training.
At the end of the summer, all six will pitch their business idea to a panel of judges with one teen securing an additional £10,000 prize and a year of mentoring to develop their business further.
The six interns, selected from almost 30 young people after an extensive pitching and judging process, are:
- Erin Bennett from Limavady: Erin is a 17-year-old student at St Mary’s, Limavady, who is developing a device which allows medical practitioners to continually monitor and evaluate the condition of an asthmatic patient.
- Jack Wallace from Dungannon: Jack is an 18-year-old student at South-West College who is currently working on a website and mobile app which allows tourists to see which activities are situated close-by.
- Rebekah Loughlin from Ballymena: Rebekah is an 18-year-old student at Cambridge House Grammar School who is developing a website and mobile app which helps school students to decide which university to attend.
- Scott Hilland from Newtownards: Scott is a 17-year-old student at Regent House Grammar School who has created a high quality car seat which can be accessed from both sides of a vehicle, as well as having adjustable leg and head supports.
- Mark Ireland from Newtownards: Mark is a 16-year-old student at Strangford College who has created an online hosting company to allow developers to get access to powerful Virtual Machines for testing ideas at a lower cost.
- Mason Robinson from Belfast: The youngest of the six interns, Mason is a 15-year-old student at Ashfield Boys’ High School who is working on a new type of pen drive, with software incorporated, so people do not lose important schoolwork or work documents.
Dr Joanne Stuart, Director of Development at the Northern Ireland Science Park, said, “We were very impressed by all of the entrants and their innovations, not least because of their young age, but also because their ideas have the potential to become very viable and commercial companies and products.
“The chosen six will now get the chance to develop their business further, with mentoring and guidance from our successful entrepreneurs in the Science Park network. It is this invaluable advice which will help them to challenge and ultimately refine their current business models.”
Tom O’Gorman, one of Northern Ireland’s most successful business investors, and Jim Finnegan, a key investor in local start-ups, both worked with the NI Science Park to develop the unique initiative.
Tom said, “It was inspiring to listen to all of the pitches and it was a hard task to pick our final six, but we believe that we have selected a strong and diverse mix of business ideas, all with commercial potential. The opportunity for each of them to work alongside a mentor for the next 8 weeks will enable them to hone their ideas and business models and I am looking forward to see how they all develop over that period. All six are great role models to other aspiring young entrepreneurs.”
Jim said, “Having the opportunity to hear from all of the shortlisted entrants re-iterated my belief that in Northern Ireland, we have many talented people with quality ideas. This programme will enable us to provide the type of support to help our young entrepreneurs to have the best chance of success with their business ideas.”