The hunt for the next teenage Mark Zuckerberg

Nov 30, 2013 by

A group of Plymouth teenagers is hoping to ‘mould and inspire the next generation of digital thinkers, makers and doers’

The search for the next Mark Zuckerberg or digital Richard Branson is on, and it’s a group of teenagers doing the searching.

Pioneers, the new off-shoot project from coding non-profit Thinkspace, is looking for the next generation of entrepreneurial app developers – a hand-picked bunch of talented teenagers given access to like minds, venture capitalists and mentoring backers. At least that’s the plan.

“We believe that the work of talented students should be cherished and recognised, which is why we formed Pioneers,” said Thinkspace’s 16-year-old co-founder James Anderson talking to the Guardian. “What we’re looking for is more than just coding skills and knowledge. We’re looking for the next Mark Zuckerberg or Richard Branson – they have to be serious, but unique and innovative with the entrepreneurial spirit.”

Wheat from the chaff

Launching today, Thinkspace Pioneers will be opened up to applicants aged 13-18 with projects spanning apps, games and websites – anything that shows promise in the digital space.

The application procedure is free, and anyone can apply, but won’t be easy, as Anderson says “they will only have 400 characters or less to get their proposal across, so we’re hoping the best and brightest will really be able to sparkle and standout”.

The selection of applicants to be put through to the incubator-like project falls to Belfast-based Jordan Earle, director of the Pioneers project for Thinkspace. His task is to weed out the wheat from the chaff as “only a handful will make it though the application process.”

“What I want to be able to see is that they have a passion for technology,” said Earle. “I really hope we can inspire and mould the next generation of digital thinkers, makers and doers.”

“It’s incredibly important that young people are given as many opportunities as possible these days so they can discover their full potential,” he said.

Those that do make it through, notified within 72 hours of application, will be invited to take part in weekly or bi-weekly networking and discussion opportunities, both online using Google+ Hangouts and in a central, likely London, location. They will also be given access to Thinkspace’s “Social” coding and development-focussed social network, which launched in closed beta earlier in the year for schools, teachers and pupils.

To support the Pioneers project, Thinkspace is looking for backing to the tune of around £50,000 or partnerships from the big names in tech, Microsoft and Google included. It has certainly had success in that department in the past year, with endorsements from Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo, Google’s senior vice president of social Vic Gundotra, Microsoft’s UK director of education Steve Beswick, Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak and even Stephen Fry to name but a few.

‘Make a real difference to the lives of students’

Thinkspace was originally launched in September this year, aiming to place a Google headquarters-style spaces filled with modern computers, minimalist furniture and bright white walls within schools in Britain to encourage children to learn to code in a creative, non-school-like environment.

“We want to make a real difference to the lives of students in the UK and globally, and Pioneers is the next stage in that dream,” said Anderson.

via Thinkspace Pioneers hunt for the next teenage Mark Zuckerberg | Technology |

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