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Entrepreneurial Spirit Unleashed in Oaklands College

On 18 June 21c team travelled to Welwyn Garden City (UK) to run an Open Data entrepreneurship challenge for Oaklands College students. The event, which was funded by Microsoft and organised in cooperation with Silicon Abbey and Aecom, aimed to raise awareness about Open Data among young people through a three-stage, business-oriented app development competition. During the first stage students had to randomly select five datasets and create a compelling business proposition using these data for an app that is both innovative and commercially viable. The next stage was more hands-on and involved building an application using Citadel App Generator, a tool which was designed to make app development so simple that even an eight year old could do it in ten minutes. During the final stage students had to enter the dragon’s den and pitch their apps to a panel of judges. The latter were presented with five apps: STADO, which allows tourists to easily find popular places of interest; Saints Venues, a multi-purpose app which, among other things, allows users to easily find and book venues; StA Bus Links, a one-stop app for bus timetables, journeys and ticket bookings; Electric Cinema, an app which allows electric car owners to receive a discount at a cinema while their vehicle is charging; and St. Albans Wire!, which allows users to charge their smartphones through wireless connection. STADO was singled out for a prize because its creators delivered a professional and engaging presentation; Saints Venues because the dragons thought it had a strong commercial potential; and StA Bus Links because it was the only app to address the subject of Open Data explicitly. All apps, including the two that didn’t win – Electric Cinema and St. Albans Wire! – were appraised highly not just by judges but also teachers who came to support their students during a competitive, three hour-long exercise. “We need more events like this one,” said one computer science teacher. “If we can inculcate Open Data and entrepreneurship culture early on, Britain as a country will only thrive in the future.”

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