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Young Entrepreneurs on target with football data App SmartBall

A group of young football enthusiasts from St Patrick’s College in Banbridge have been awarded the Overall winners after designing an innovative App idea, SmartBall. The App connects to a Bluetooth device inside a football, and feeds back information such as speed and distance, allowing coaches and teachers to analyse useful data.

The competition was part of the final completion of the Digital Teen programme which was launched last year by the Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough at Banbridge Academy.  Since then over 400 14-18 year old students in 9 schools across the Council area have completed the programme, showcasing the digital businesses that exist and the opportunities that they provide for young people working in the area.

The Digital Teen Programme, funded by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, is delivered by local charity Young Enterprise Northern Ireland and aims to encourage and develop a ‘digital enterprise culture’ in the region by upskilling young people for the digital industry and helping them discover the digital industry as an attractive career path or road to entrepreneurship. Young people were face-to-face with digital industry experts and hands-on with the latest tech in an immersive digital experience.

The Digital Teen Final event took place on Monday the 14th at the Iveagh Movie Studio in Banbridge, with the 9 winners from each school present their final App idea to a panel of digital experts. While judges Katie Brown (Create: Innovate: Armagh), Danny Turley (Performa Sports) and Neal Myers (O2) deliberated, Jim Eastwood from The Apprentice shared his business tips with the young entrepreneurs and provided an insight into the digital industry from his experience as VP at Groupon.

Katie Brown from Create: Innovate: Armagh, who judged on the day, said “It was really exciting to be here at the Digital Teen Final with Young Enterprise today. Working with the schools on the programme, it’s great to see the ideas come to life in the final presentations. There were so many brilliant ideas, as a judge it was incredibly hard to choose the winning team.

“The programme itself is fantastic as it teaches the young people skills in entrepreneurship, but also couples this with an understanding of the Digital Industry, and the careers within the sector here in Northern Ireland. The programme also encourages skill in leadership, teamwork and presentations, so it’s an all-round programme targeting lots of different areas. My role at the AmmA Centre is to develop the creative industries in Armagh, so it’s exciting for me to work on a programme that is focused on merging entrepreneurship with creative careers, and to see how the young people are engaging with this.”

Students also completed a number of placements throughout the programme in local digital businesses GCD Technologies, ER Media, Mooney Media Ltd, Iveagh Cinema, Linwoods and Leckey.

Councillor Paul Greenfield of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, commented “As part of the Council’s Regeneration and Development Strategy, the digital tech sector is one of the Council’s key growth sectors.  We are keen to grow and develop this sector over the next 5 years. Digital Teen is the perfect programme to address the skills requirements for this sector and a great way to encourage young people to pursue high value careers in the sector and even digital entrepreneurship.”

Carol Fitzsimons, Chief Executive with Young Enterprise said: “The digital industry is recognised as a key sector in driving economic growth. The Digital Teen programme inspires young people in the Council area to learn more about this area of work, encouraging them to consider pursuing a career within this industry.”

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