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Teen tech winners from Dalriada in Ballymoney jet off to Silicon Valley for trip of a lifetime

The winners of Digital DNA’s Digital Futures competition – designed to inspire school children to get involved in the world of tech – are about to jet off to Silicon Valley.

The three year 10 pupils from Dalriada School in Ballymoney will have the chance to meet leaders from the world’s top technology brands including Google, Microsoft, Instagram, LinkedIn and Salesforce.

They will also sit down with Sarah Friar, CFO of mobile payments firm Square. Sarah who originates from Sion Mills, Co. Tyrone is now one of Silicon Valley’s top women in Fintech and passionate about inspiring future leaders in tech. Listed on the NYSE, Square was established by the co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey.

Lana McArthur, Chloë Bond and Jessica Pinder, year 10 pupils from Dalriada School were crowned this year's winners of the Digital Futures competition, when they pitched their idea for an app that would help sufferers and their families manage the daily challenges that living with dementia brings. The annual competition culminated at Digital DNA’s annual technology and business event in St. George's Market in June 2018.

Now in its sixth year, Digital DNA’s Digital Futures programme is held in partnership with Sentinus, a charity promoting STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths). The programme is aimed at inspiring the next generation on the possibilities that digital technology provides. During the 8-week programme, over 1,000 young people were introduced to the fundamentals of digital technology, received a crash-course in coding and a brainstorming session to solve or embrace a real-world business problem or opportunity.

Tim Gamble, Head of IT & Computer Science at Dalriada School, said:

“Dalriada School is both delighted and honoured to be sending off a group of pupils and staff to visit San Francisco and Silicon Valley in California. This is a unique opportunity for the school and highlights the importance we place on we place on STEM and extra-curricular activities.”

Gareth Quinn, Founder of Digital DNA said:

“Inspiring the next generation to embrace entrepreneurship and innovation is a founding principle of Digital DNA. This will be the third year that we have brought a group of young people to San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

“We are very fortunate to have some amazing connections within the world's leading tech companies and its fantastic to have the opportunity to bring these amazing young people to the global centre of technology. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these young people and we are delighted to make it happen alongside partners such as Sentinus, Aer Lingus and the US State Department.”

Bill Connor, CEO of Sentinus, said:

“It is essential not to underestimate the innovative and entrepreneurial capabilities of our young people. Digital Futures provides important opportunities for students of all ages to develop digital skills, innovate, create solutions and develop ideas born out of personal, societal or business need.

“It provides the platform for them to create their own digital products and discover how they can get these into the marketplace. The programme represents an investment in Northern Ireland’s future.”

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