The big 50 – BT Young Scientist celebrates milestone year and illustrious history

BITCI News - Members News - Uncategorized - May 28, 2013

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD was the first to wish the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition a Happy 50th Birthday last month at the launch of a milestone year for the exhibition. He was joined by Colm O’Neill, CEO BT Ireland, Dr. Tony Scott, co-founder of the exhibition, and budding student scientists.

BT is calling on all past entrants, visitors, teachers, judges, partners and supporters to connect with the exhibition again and send their Happy Birthday messages and memories via a virtual birthday card, Facebook and Twitter. Simply go or, or use #btyste50 on Twitter to send your birthday wishes and BT will collate the messages. A selection of the most special birthday wishes will be projected onto the RDS, Dublin, in January 2014.

The birthday card is accompanied by a new digital archive created by BT, which displays unique material and iconic moments of the last 49 years of the exhibition. In addition to photographs from throughout the decades, the archive also includes indexed exhibition guides, forming a searchable database of students that competed in the programme. The archive is available at and BT is calling on old friends of the exhibition to re-connect on our Facebook page to share their memories.

As part of the launch of the 50th year of the exhibition, BT Ireland also announced that it will extend its commitment to organising and sponsoring the competition beyond 2014 and until 2016. This additional two-year sponsorship demonstrates continued support and a significant investment by BT into what is now a cornerstone of the Irish educational calendar.

Commenting at the launch, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said: “I am delighted to offer my wholehearted congratulations to everyone involved in the BT Young Scientist Exhibition as it celebrates its fiftieth birthday. The whole country has been impressed by the hard work and ingenuity of all of those who have taken part since the first competition was held in 1965. I always enjoy visiting the exhibition and seeing at first-hand the energy, passion, creativity and fun among the participants. All of this would not be possible without the continued commitment of BT and the great work of their staff, the students, teachers and parents, who each year demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ireland’s bright future in scientific research and technological innovation is secure.”

Colm O’Neill, CEO, BT Ireland, said, “This is our 14th year as organiser, and I hope our involvement has helped it to evolve into the special programme it is today. Having thrived over five decades, the exhibition shows that an exceptional formula lies at its core, and for us, this year is about celebrating past achievements as well as looking ahead to what we’d like the future to look like. We believe that this exhibition is one of the best forums for engaging schools and the wider public in the critical skills of science, technology, engineering and maths, and are delighted to be a driving force behind it until at least 2016.”

BT estimates that more than 65,000 students entered over 31,000 projects in the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition over the past 49 years. The exhibition’s alumni includes distinguished scientists, academics, researchers and high-tech entrepreneurs like Patrick and John Collison from Limerick. The winners of the Irish exhibition have won 14 first prizes during 24 years of the EU Young Scientist Contest, and scooped over 20 top awards in the International Science and Engineering Fair in the USA. And it continues to thrive, as one of the longest-running events of its kind in the world – 230 projects were received at the first exhibition in 1965, and a record breaking 1,879 ideas in 2013.

The winner of the first-ever competition was John Monahan, who founded Avigen, an international biotechnology company based in California. He credits the exhibition with his renowned scientific success saying, “It was at the exhibition in 1965 when I came to realise that a potential career in science and research was a genuine possibility for me. Meeting my peers from across Ireland and receiving guidance from the judges, those experts in their academic fields, gave me confidence and solidified my decision to pursue a life of science and innovation. The exhibition can be a life changing event which motivates the mind to pursue a career in these disciplines and I am very grateful for the start in life it offered me.” Today, John is Executive Vice President, Research and Development at Synthetic Biologics, a US-based biotechnology company focused on the development of biologics for the prevention and treatment of serious infectious diseases. He is also on the company boards of a number of US and Irish Biotechnology companies.

The next BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will take place in the RDS, Dublin from January 8th – 11th 2014 and the closing date for entries is the 2nd October 2013. There are over 120 awards including the overall BT Young Scientist & Technologist of the Year. In addition, BT offers over 30 participating students the opportunity to take part in the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp, an intensive commercialisation skills programme.

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is organised by BT Ireland, and is supported by a number of valued partners including the Department of Education & Skills, Analog Devices, Elan, Intel, and RTE. For more information on the exhibition, log onto


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