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Making life 'better, simpler or easier' at TeenTech Awards

Talented teens show experts how it's done, from cancer-detecting bras and mental health apps at annual awards

Posted by Hannah Oakman | June 20, 2016 | Events

Entrepreneurial teenagers from all corners of the UK will today present their ideas of how technology can be used to make life ‘better, simpler or easier’ at the TeenTech Awards, at the Royal Society London.

TeenTech events are designed to educate and enthuse young people about the future possibilities available to them in the fields of science, engineering and technology. With technology infiltrating growing industries like cyber security set to offer over upwards of 4.5 million more jobs worldwide by 2019, TeenTech aims to drive awareness of the wide range of career opportunities available to the youth of today.

After seeing off fierce competition, more than 120 shortlisted teenagers from schools across the UK will present their projects to a panel of expert judges including celebrity science reporters, journalists and eminent academics. TeenTech co-founder and BBC Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin will be joined by a host of familiar faces including Professor Brian Cox, theoretical physicist and broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Channel 4’s Dr Christian Jessen, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, tech reporter for BBC Click LJ Rich, Channel 4 News’ Geoff White, science and tech reporter Dallas Campbell, and Jo Johnson MP.

By researching the market and gleaning advice from industry experts, youngsters are set the task of developing an innovative new product or service. The ideas, created by 11-18 year olds, range from a bra designed to detect early-stage breast cancer, an app to treat mental health issues suffered by members of the armed forces, a game engine that gets kids to hone their cyber-security skills, and a biodegradable fishing net that minimises damage to the environment. Other ideas include “Smart Trees” that would use algae and ultimately become a replacement for street lighting, and also innovative ‘queue-busting’ technology that enables users to order room service, book concert tickets or make dinner reservations digitally using a voice-activated system.

TeenTech challenges students search for scientific and technological solutions to real problems across a range of categories including energy, healthcare, education, entertainment, environment, transport, construction and wearables. The winning teams not only have the chance to compete for thousands of pounds in cash prizes and an invitation to a reception at Buckingham Palace in the autumn, but are also given the opportunity to get their ideas in front of the businesses and individuals who can help make them a reality.

“Digital skills cut across all workplaces and TeenTech helps students understand that studying subjects like engineering, physics or computer science can be springboards into every industry and into really rewarding, well-paid jobs,” says TeenTech’s founder and CEO, Maggie Philbin.

Maggie Philbin speaking at TeenTech Awards 2015

“Working in science or technology is no longer a niche choice, because technology is disrupting the way we do absolutely everything – from finding partners to finding planets! Events like today’s are all about breaking down misconception that STEM subjects are dull, dry, and boring and giving young people a more realistic picture of what the exciting world of STEM really looks like, and how they can play a very real part in shaping the world of tomorrow.”

“It’s gratifying to see 75 girls and 69 boys in the finalist teams. Students from all backgrounds come to our TeenTech events and begin to understand that working in tech is about finding real solutions for real needs. They work really hard on their own ideas with support from some brilliant mentors and surprise themselves as well as our judges when they see what they can achieve”

Award sponsors include Maplin, National Grid, Airbus, JVCKenwood, Symantec, Atkins, Cranfield University, AQA, CILIP IL Group and Dell.

Read more about the awards at

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