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Today’s entrepreneurs share skills with the entrepreneurs of tomorrow

  • Leading lights of tech business start-ups housed in Belfast’s Ormeau Baths have been giving a master class to ambitious students from integrated colleges in Northern Ireland. 

    It’s all part of a unique partnership between the Carson Awards Programme of the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), Ormeau Baths and Young Enterprise NI.

    The project launch on Wednesday 21 March 2018 brought together more than 50 young people from three colleges to benefit from the experience of some of the brightest entrepreneurs in Belfast’s flourishing digital technology sector. The day was planned to trigger learning by taking the lesson out of the classroom.

    The master-class developed from conversations between two of NI’s leading entrepreneurs - Mark Dowds and Tony Carson.   Mark Dowds is one of the co-founders of the Ormeau Baths and also Trov Inc, one of the world’s fastest-growing insurance technology companies. Tony is a businessman who also established the IEF Carson Awards Programme with his late father, comedian Frank Carson.

    The day began with a talk by Peter Edgar of Ignite, which brings together inventors and investors to kick-start businesses.  The students from Priory, Blackwater and Strangford Integrated Colleges then formed teams to face a creative challenge, with the support of volunteers from a number of the companies based at Ormeau Baths.

    Tony Carson said that he was glad to be supporting the masterclass:

    “Having established and helped develop the Carson Awards scheme it’s great to see this initiative inject creativity into business – and inject a bit of business sense into creative types! The creative industries sector is definitely a growth area and it’s vital to nurture young talent and encourage the aspirations of school students. I look forward to seeing these young people become part of Northern Ireland’s success story.”

    Mark Dowds of Ormeau Baths said:

    “We exist to find and develop entrepreneurs who can shape the knowledge economy in NI. By partnering with Carson Awards and Young Enterprise, we are excited to shape a programme tailored to those who don’t take the normal career path. Some of the brightest are more interested in business than books. We would like to help them.” [continues]

    Paul Caskey of the IEF added

    “Integrated education is pioneering and forward-looking and it’s great for us to work with these businesses to help demonstrate the world of possibilities which awaits these students. We are very grateful to Mark and Tony, all the team at Ormeau Baths and Young Enterprise for organising the event and to Barclays Eagle Labs for providing refreshments for everyone who worked so hard today.”

    As the day drew to a close, David Irvine from Blackwater IC in Downpatrick commented:

    “I’ve learnt so much and had fun at the same time; it was great to team up with new people and make new friends. It was very challenging to tackle some of the tasks but also very inspiring and we had plenty of encouragement from the experts.  I intend to be an actor and a day like today helps develop those important skills for whatever the future holds. There should be more of these events so that more young people can benefit.”

    Young Enterprise identifies the ability to work with anyone from any background as a key skill in business, so students at an integrated school are in a great position to further develop their entrepreneurial skills.

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