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Students from St. Patrick's Comprehensive Shannon jump for joy after winning the competition pictured with ITLG's John Hartnett (extreme right) and Aer Lingus Declan Carney, Commeriicial and Marketing Manager with Aer Lingus. Photograph by Barry Cronin

Silicon Valley trip for Shannon’s young innovators

Everything from microchips inserted at birth to predict health problems to self-drive cars with workstations were imagined for a world 50 years from now as 700 students competed at the second Young Innovators competition at Shannon Airport.

The students representing schools nationwide were set the tasks of imagining the world 50 years from now and coming up with new business ideas for then across six categories – how we Live, Work, Play, Shop, Learn and Travel. Top honours were claimed by St. Patrick’s Comprehensive, Shannon.

The Irish Technology Leaders Group (ITLG) event, in association with LIT, saw the students mentored by representatives from some of the world’s leading companies including Dell, Intel, Analog, Johnson and Johnson, Cook Medical, Zagg and Logitech ahead of submitting their project.

A short list of six schools – eventual winners St. Patrick’s Comprehensive, Shannon (Work category); Mary Immaculate, Lisdoonvarna (Play category, 2nd place); Patrician Academy, Mallow (Shop category, 3rd place); Salesian College, Limerick (Travel category); Castletroy College (Learn category); and Presentation Secondary School, Thurles (Live category) – then pitched ‘Dragon’s Den’ style to judges.

The idea, however, that caught judges’ attention the most was St. Patrick’s Comprehensive’s concept for implanting a micro-chip at birth that would deliver predictive diagnostics for health issues.

They will now travel, courtesy of Aer Lingus, to Silicon Valley to see first-hand leading tech companies in action and also walk away with devices sponsored by Dell.

Said team member Sophie Petticrew, “This is incredible. We just came here with a load of ideas in our heads but certainly didn’t think that we’d be looking forward to a trip to Silicon Valley. I’m not sure when we will wake up and realise it’s a dream.

“One of the reasons we said we would do this was that it was such an amazing prize and we really wanted it. We just came up with an idea and tried our best. To see Silicon Valley will be fantastic as it is one of the most influential places in the world. ”

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