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Scottish Youngsters Reach Nesta Tech Innovation Finals

David Paul


Nesta Tech

Innovative ideas proposed by young teens competing for a £25,000 prize include a robotic fish that sucks up plastic from the ocean, and a special heartbeat detecting t-shirt.

Two groups of young Scots have reached the final stage of the Longitude Explorer Prize competition with £25,000 up for grabs.

The competition is run by Nesta Challenges with the support of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

It tasks 11 to 16-year-olds with pairing their entrepreneurial minds with technology in order to combat world issues like climate change, the country’s ageing population and social good. Hundreds of groups entered the competition and 40 have now been selected for the final.

One team from the Paisley YMCA has developed an Urban Micro Farm that uses artificial intelligence to enable people to turn patches of urban wasteland into areas suitable for growing food.

Meanwhile, youngsters at Dundee’s Baldragon Academy have developed Dundee Discover AI, an app that connects to zero-emission driverless buses to help citizens reduce their carbon footprints while moving around the city efficiently.

Other ideas on the shortlist include:

Wilmslow High School, Cheshire – Loneliness Buddy: A smart device to help people who are isolated in their homes. The device learns about people’s interests and is able to hold conversation, as well as connecting them with others in the same position so they can communicate over the device.

West Exe School, Exeter, Devon – Medbot: A delivery robot designed to distribute prescriptions and medical necessities to people who cannot leave their homes, with the contents only accessible using biometric/fingerprint technology to ensure the right medicine is distributed to the right person.

Baildon, West Yorkshire – ClassBot: A robot for young people who cannot attend school. It helps them take part in lessons remotely from home, while a robot avatar in the classroom reflects the facial expressions of the student.

Sutton Grammar School, London – Bacteriophage Production Technologies (BPT): AI which can engineer viruses to work for our benefit so that they attack harmful bacteria as an alternative to antibiotics and, in turn, save lives. It uses an AI to generate its own DNA designs and can adapt to different bacteria and their mutations.


Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “It is incredible to see how these young finalists have thought up innovations to tackle global challenges, from devices that detect health problems to robots which can remove plastic waste from our seas.

“Technological innovation is important to grow the UK economy and we are supporting young people to pursue careers in this area through schemes like the Longitude Explorer Prize.”

The shortlisted teams will now get mentoring from experts and receive resources to help develop their innovative concept, with the winner of the competition taking home the £25,000 prize and three runner- up teams receiving £10,000.

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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