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Caithness News Bulletins March 2003

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Highland Young Folk Full Of Technology Ideas 10 March 03
Competing young innovators to develop prototypes in Alness

Young people from across the Highlands and Islands, taking part in a major technology and innovation competition, will gather in Alness, Easter Ross next Tuesday (18th March 2003) to further develop their project ideas at the PICT Forum.

The ICT Youth Challenge Programme is being run on behalf of Highlands and Islands Enterprise by PICT Innovation Ltd, a partnership company established to commercialise the results of ICT research in the Highlands and Islands.

The competition kicked off last October and attracted applications from  innovative young people from all over the Highlands & Islands.  In December last year 25 teams attended the second stage of the competition in Inverness, where they presented their ideas to a panel of industry experts and 15 successful teams were selected to progress to the third stage of the competition next week.

The 'PICT Forum' will be held at the PICT Innovation offices, at Redshank House, Alness Business Park, and industry experts from BT, BusinessLab, Omnitech, Michael Fraser Associates, SONY and Highlands and Islands Enterprise will be on hand to offer specialist advise and support to the teams.

PICT project manager, Bryan Fraser, said: "The level of interest in the competition and the quality of ideas put forward is a measure of the creativity that exists amongst the region's young people". He added:  "We have been quite stunned by the quantity and quality of ideas that have been put forward by young people over what is a relatively short period.  It is important to the future of the Highlands and Islands that this creativity is fostered and encouraged, and that's what the Youth Challenge programme is all about."

The various stages of the Youth Challenge competition are designed to encourage the development of a wide variety of skills such as business planning, marketing, presentation and project management skills.  The teams will be offered support and advice from mentors from the business sector and from specialists in key subjects areas.

After next week's event, finalists will be selected to take part in the grand final 'Hot House' event in the summer, which will be a week's residential workshop held at the Fairburn Activity Centre in Marybank.  This will see the teams ideas developed into actual prototypes, and competitors will be judged on teamwork, innovation, feasibility, communication and peer opinion.

Prizes are awarded at each stage of the challenge.  The overall winning team will receive an all-expenses trip to Media Lab in Dublin to learn about the "blue-sky" innovation research and development that is taking place throughout Europe.

The Highlands and Islands ICT Youth Challenge programme is being supported by a host of sponsors including BT Scotland, in conjunction with BT's world-renowned research and technology business, BTexact Technologies.  The list of supporters also includes Sony, Media Lab Europe, Business Lab, Omnitech, Michael Fraser Associates and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The teams developing their ideas to paper prototype on Tuesday 18th March are:
1. McHarg - Alness
2. H.I.Y.A - Fortrose
3. D-Lux - Fortrose
4. MCR Lot - Forres
5. Swav - Tain
6. Future Enterprises - Tain
7. Portree Scouts A- Portree
8. Portree Scouts B - Portree
9. The Dyspraxcics  - Sutherland
10. M.T.com - Plockton
11. V-optics - Plockton
12. Divaz_wiv_attitude - Fort William
13. Brightlocks -  Orkney
14. Quadra Blade - Stornoway
15. Category Five - Shetland