Young UK creative tech pioneers invited to compete for £10K

2017 Longitude Explorer Prize challenges young people to solve healthcare issues with the ‘Internet of Things’

Teams of secondary school students from around the UK can enter the Longitude Explorer Prize, a creative tech challenge with a £10,000 grand prize. Run by innovation foundation Nesta, supported by technology company, IBM, schools will compete for a cash prize plus expert mentoring from IBM.

In the spirit of the 18th century Longitude Prize, which set the task of determining a ship’s exact location at sea, the contest for schools now focuses on solving a contemporary challenge using technology. School teams can enter the prize at, from 9 January until 3 March 2017 (3pm GMT).

This year’s Explorer Prize challenges young people to develop innovative, creative and practical solutions that use web-enabled technology – the ‘Internet of Things’ – to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the UK. Teams can focus on any health issue facing the country from childhood obesity to mental wellbeing and respiratory health, and are responsible not only for building the technological solution but also budgeting its development, designing how it looks and planning how it’s marketed.

Teams of students aged 11 to 16, supported by a teacher or youth leader, are eligible to enter the contest and will have until Friday 3 March 2017 to submit their plans. Finalists will then visit IBM’s London offices, where they will work on their ideas with mentoring from the technology company’s team of Internet of Things specialists. Teams will also be trained in the use of cutting edge ‘cognitive’ computing tools, intelligent platforms that are able to think, understand and learn. Winners will be announced before the end of school summer term 2017, with a first place prize of £10,000 and two runner-up prizes of £1,000.

Tris Dyson, Director of the Challenge Prize Centre at Nesta said: “We’re thrilled to be working with IBM – the pioneers of ‘Watson’ – on the second Longitude Explorer Prize, which opens to entries from schools around the country today. Projects like this are hugely important, not only in creating opportunities to help develop young people’s STEM skills but also their abilities in presentation, teamwork and project planning. Building on last year’s successes, we are calling for even more young people to get involved this time around.’

Mark Wakefield, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Manager at IBM UK said: “We believe that understanding, engaging with and applying the latest technologies is essential learning for every young person, and this is exactly what the Longitude Explorer Challenge Prize does. This year’s prize focuses on a rapidly developing area of technology, which IBM is at the forefront of: the ‘Internet of Things’. It is exciting to see the ideas that young people generate during the course of the competition and we are looking forward to assisting the schools and their students in shaping and building their ideas.”

The first Longitude Explorer Prize, launched in 2014, focused on geolocation and attracted over 60 entries. The competition was won by an all-girl team from Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire who took home the first prize for their app, Displaced, designed to help charities to coordinate the logistics of supporting vulnerable people around the world.

Speaking about the experience of mentoring the team from Rendcomb College, Director of Computing Jonathan Torbitt said: ‘It was a great privilege to mentor our school’s team through the Longitude Explorer Prize 2015, from the initial inception of the pupils’ idea to delivery of a working prototype. The transformation in the girls along the way was fantastic. They went from shy and nervous teenagers to confident young adults, capable of presenting their idea in a professional manner. 

“I learnt a lot about managing pupil expectations over a protracted period and keeping them motivated, especially over the holidays when most would give up and drop out. I will definitely be encouraging entries from Rendcomb College to the Longitude Explorer Prize again this year and now have to find the time to mentor more teams as a result of winning!’

For more about how to submit to this year’s Prize, the judging criteria and additional details about themes and key dates, visit:

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