David Cameron has today lauded a 65-strong cohort of Midland teenagers who have spent the weekend building three new web applications.
The youngsters, aged 13 to 16 and drawn from five schools from Birmingham and Wolverhampton, have worked with a group of coders, web entrepreneurs and businessmen who have volunteered to turn app ideas into reality in a 48-hour “hackathon” event, run by Oxygen Accelerator, a 13 week programme to support technology start ups based at Birmingham Science Park Aston.
With the Prime Minister expected to reinforce his growth strategy at the Conservative Party Conference this week, he will point to initiatives like this as examples of the private sector taking an independent lead to inspire the next generation of young entrepreneurs.
In a letter sent to the project organisers today, Mr Cameron wrote: “This is cutting edge technology that will undoubtedly make real advances in the future. It is an excellent opportunity for young people to discover the development processes which lie behind the apps that almost everyone has on mobile devices today. This is a scheme which will fire the imagination and show and show the participants the exciting world of business.”
Mark Hales, founder and principal of Oxygen Accelerator, said: “The only way to stimulate economic growth is to encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs to enter the market. We need to foster this entrepreneurial spirit at an early age so that young people have the confidence to take that considered leap when they leave education to set up businesses of their own.
“These are the businesses which will create new jobs and wealth and pay taxes in the future; slowly but surely driving us out of debt and paying for the education of the generation to come. It’s essential that these future entrepreneurs learn not just in the classroom, but also have mentoring from people who have done it for themselves. This hackathon weekend will hopefully not just ignite a spark for business within these teens, but will also show them that there are experienced professionals who will be there to support them in the early stages without expecting anything in return.”
The three applications created this weekend are:
R U SMRTA - An educational game where the user has to answer questions in rapid fire as a zombie tries to attack you. If you answer correctly, the zombie loses limbs until you defeat it. If you get it wrong three times, then it’s game over! Designed for teachers, who can pull together a fun and interactive “pop quiz” at the end of a lesson with almost no effort.
Mi Life Goals - A self-development app to keep goals, dreams and aims in one place. Personal content such as pictures, quotations or notes can be attached to help the user keep on track and achieve his or her objectives.
My Studi Buddi - An app to help organise revision and help keep the user motivated. Teachers can add tasks or deadlines to an individual student or group, and students can sync the app with their own smartphone calendar so a personalised revision calendar can be planned.
Each of the apps will be released via the Android store and Apple store and will be available for purchase for 69p. The teams who created the apps have received legal advice from Cobbetts LLP to incorporate their businesses and financial advice from Mazars LLP to help build a business plan. The participants own 100% of the businesses themselves. Over the next six months will receive mentoring and support from the Oxygen Accelerator team to help them develop and grow their fledgling businesses.
The participating schools were: Bartley Green School, Bromsgrove School, Holyhead School, Perry Beeches School, Wednesfield High School.
For more information, log onto www.oxygenaccelerator.com