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Launch of Young Innovator Awards 2011

Bay Teens Compete to Develop
Innovative New Products & Services

PRESS RELEASE: Monday 14 March 2011. Secondary school teachers, students, parents and local business people gathered last week to launch the 2011 Young Innovator Awards. The competition has been designed to recognise secondary school students that show innovative problem solving skills by designing a new or improving an existing product or service. Sustainability is a key consideration for contestants, who must develop innovative solutions, through design, for the business environment.

This is the second year the Young Innovator Awards (YiA) has been organised by economic development agency Priority One. The awards are unique to the Western Bay of Plenty sub-region. Last year judges were amazed by the number of students that entered the competition, as well as the calibre of entries. Blythe Rees-Jones of Locus Research says “The YiA competition is a really fantastic initiative which gets students thinking creatively, and developing problem solving skills that will be invaluable for our region and New Zealand in the future. Last year the YiA competition saw a wide range of interesting ideas being developed and presented, some of which were developed well beyond the level expected from secondary school students.”

The awards are part of Priority One’s INSTEP programme, which exposes secondary school student, their teachers, principals and parents to examples of successful business practice to highlight career opportunities and pathways to ensure students become motivated and inspired to achieve their goals. Priority One’s INSTEP Manager, Lyn Parlane, says the awards are also great for the business community, who will be supporting young people to gain skills needed by industry and can submit problems for the students to solve.

“The competition is not necessarily about creating something new, but is often as simple as looking at how something could be improved to be more efficient and sustainable,” says Ms Parlane. “The world is rapidly changing – from the old board games of the past to the sophisticated electronic games that are now hugely popular with young people, or being directed by in-car GPS systems rather than relying on maps. Inventing new products and services, or modifying old ones through innovative ideas, is the way of the future, and those are the skills we want to foster”, she says.

Local businesses supporting YiA will also benefit, as the competition aims to help develop the traits they seek in future employees. Judged by a panel of local business experts in the areas of research, innovation, creativity, sustainability and communication, the awards will recognise and reward students that are creative in their problem-solving ability – a key skill needed by businesses to become more efficient and sustainable in the future. This year the judges are representing Zespri, Woods Creative, Catalyst R & D, Locus Research and the Sustainable Business Network

Students can compete in teams or as individuals for a $1000 cash prize and the opportunity to be mentored by local business people. Both supreme winners took up this opportunity last year. Junior (Yr 9 and 10) and senior (Yr 11, 12 and 13) students from the following nine sub-regional secondary schools are eligible to enter: Aquinas College, Bethlehem College, Katikati College, Mount Maunganui College, Otumoetai College, Tauranga Boys’ High School, Tauranga Girls’ College, Te Puke High School and Papamoa College.

There is a designated website for students to go online to enter and learn more about the competition. The closing date for entries to YiA 2011 is Wednesday 1 June



Savana Woodcock, 2010 Junior Winner

“The hardest part of the project is thinking of an idea that will blow the judges mind. New Zealander of the Year, Ray Avery, said that good innovators observe everything around them and see problems that need fixing. So put your iPods, phones and PSPs down and start observing things around you. You will be amazed at how many ideas pop into your head. Just remember to keep an open mind and always imagine the future of your product, how it could be marketed and how it might help people and our planet. Sometimes a simple idea is better than rocket science and the judges really like it if you are interested in what you are doing.”

Parent of 2010 Senior Winner Jonathan Kent

“Our son entered the YIA competition after his Product Technology teacher encouraged him to enter. We thought he had a good entry but the feeling we got when our son's name was called out as being the Senior Supreme winner was awesome. It has been a good experience and very rewarding. Our son has spent many hours on this project and to have this end result is fantastic. We found INSTEP to be very helpful and supportive and would like to thank everybody involved with the YIA awards.”


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