The Duke of York started a busy week of engagements on Monday by backing young innovators in a competition awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Presenting this year’s TeenTech Awards, The Duke called for a “culture of enterprise” adding that young people should “recognise that science and technology are the basis of how we are going to be prosperous in the future.”
Prince Andrew was encouraging young people to take their technology ideas and turn them into commercial successes.
The TeenTech Awards, of which The Duke is Patron, aims to encourage teenagers to become involved in inventing and designing ideas to make life better, simpler and easier.
Developed by science television presenter Maggie Philbin and with the backing of broadcasters Stephen Fry and James May, the competition is split into 16 categories linked to industry considered important to the future.
The competition is open to school children aged between 11 and 16 across the country and entrants are expected to use their knowledge of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to create solutions for real problems within the industries.
Each category is provided with a mentor company, providing hands-on support for their participants. Numerous companies supported students including the likes of Google, Airbus, Network Rail, and the National Grid amongst others and Prince Andrew also drew attention to the fact that a large number of girls were taking part in the competition, saying the question of women being excluded was no longer relevant.
Speaking at the Awards, The Duke said:
“It’s plain as anything, there are no barriers to women working in a digital universe. None whatsoever. There may have been in the past, that boys took up computer programming at an earlier stage.”
Next year, one of the winning ideas will be manufactured and will go on sale in the technology and gadget shop, Maplins. Some of the winning ideas included:
- Birkdale School, Sheffield: Designed a vacuum system, based on a racing car road suction system, which would help cars have more grip.
- Loreto Grammar School, Altrincham: Developed a tracking system to monitor the location of people suffering from dementia and worked with Childline to develop an app monitoring happiness and well-being.
- Richard Lander School Cornwall: Designed a playground from recycled materials with swings that could generate power.
The Duke of York, who will launch the digital initiative programme iDEA for 2015 at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, has frequently spoken about the importance of digital industries and his call for a “culture of enterprise” reflected young people cultivating the types of skills not on the national curriculum, he said at the event.
Maggie Philbin said:
“We’ve all seen the facts predicting the ever-increasing skills gap in our STEM workforce, yet these projects show us exactly why it’s so important that we nurture the passion of our future innovators at this critical stage in their lives. The awards are not only a way to connect kids with people that can make their brilliant ideas happen, but a way of helping young people see beyond the classroom into their future career.
“The great thing about the awards is the way they encourage young people to develop their ideas and really consider their marketability – we were astonished last year by the sheer tenacity and hunger these kids had to make things better through technology, and this is a great sign of things to come – we hope that more and more schools will sign up this year and realise the impact for themselves.”
Skills such as coding and programming, which have become much more popular amongst younger generations with the introduction of new technology, are some of the skills that The Duke felt are needed today:
“At some stage young people are going to come into contact with coding or the need to code. We have to find ways of doing it. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way.
“Every school and everyone who wants to code will have to find their own way of doing it. It’s horses for courses. It’s the local solution that needs to be found, because if you can solve local problems, you’ll solve the national ones.
“There’s no point trying to come up with an all-encompassing plan. The digital universe is expanding at an exponential rate.”
The awards were presented to youngsters in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace, a grand and opulent space designed in 1853 and originally intended to be part of George IV’s private apartments as The King’s Library.
This function never came to fruition however and today it is the room which thousands of Garden Party guests pass through each year on their way to the Palace gardens. The Queen also holds the arrival lunch for a Head of State in this room and it is expected that it will be used next week for the State Visit of The President of the Republic of Singapore.
Prince Andrew will attend a variety of events this week, mostly centred around his digital and young people initiatives. More information on all of the engagements can be found on Royal Central’s Palace Review.