Wildanet backs new award to inspire and support Cornwall’s next generation of young innovators

Cornish broadband provider Wildanet is supporting the launch of a new award aimed at giving the county’s next generation of innovators the chance to kick-start their careers and achieve their potential.

Applications are now open for the brand new Young & Talented Cornwall Spirit of Trevithick Award, which provides the opportunity for funding and mentoring designed to support youngsters showing outstanding promise in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The Award is the latest initiative of Young & Talented Cornwall, The Lord Lieutenant’s Fund which since 2005 has provided grants of over £400,000 to budding stars of tomorrow across a wide range of skills areas. Sponsored by Wildanet and Cornish Lithium, as well as Exeter University, the Fund particularly seeks to support those facing social barriers, personal challenges or financial restraints.

The Spirit of Trevithick Award – named in honour of the acclaimed Cornish inventor and mining engineer – has been born from Cornwall’s thriving innovation sector which covers everything from telecoms, geoscience and space technology to mineral development and offshore power. It celebrates the wealth of opportunities available in the county and seeks to inspire the ‘Richard Trevithicks’ of the future.

Successful applicants will be matched with an established Cornwall-based company or innovator for invaluable mentorship, expert advice and guidance. They will also be given access to a cash award of up to £2,000 for the development of a particular project, or to contribute to a specific piece of equipment that contributes to their career development.

In 2023 Wildanet pledged its support for Young & Talented Cornwall by becoming a business partner and agreeing to donate in excess of £22,000 to the programme over the next three years.

Julie-anne Sunderland, Wildanet’s Chief People Officer, said: “As a business with a clear mission to unlock opportunities for people and communities in Cornwall we are proud to be a partner of Young & Talented Cornwall and in particular to be able to support the launch of this exciting new Spirit of Trevithick Award.

“There is a strong tradition of innovation and a rich seam of young talent in our county. This award is about celebrating, nurturing and empowering our wonderful young people across Cornwall, supporting them to reach their full potential and looking forward being inspired by what they go on to achieve.”

The Young & Talented Cornwall Spirit of Trevithick Award brings together some of Cornwall’s most esteemed professionals from the science, engineering and technology sector, including Ian Jones, CEO of Goonhilly Space Station who as Award Curator will chair the panel assessing applications.  Ian is supported on the grants panel by John Evans, Principal of Cornwall College; Professor Camille Bonneaud, Director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter; Caitlin Gould, founder of TECwomen and Matthew Kenworthy Gomes, astrophysicist and CEO of Cornwall Pride.  Chair of Young & Talented Cornwall, Colonel Sir Edward Bolitho, Lord Lieutenant Cornwall, also joins the panel alongside Professor Alan Livingston, former Vice Chancellor of Falmouth University.

Following the launch of the award at Goonhilly Earth Station, Ian Jones commented: “Cornwall has a rich heritage full of pioneering feats which combined with a culture for doing things differently has created a modern-day hotbed for innovation. In this far-flung peninsula, we are leading the way with cutting-edge technologies and pushing boundaries in research and scientific advancements.

“The Young & Talented Cornwall Spirit of Trevithick Award champions the innovators of tomorrow and aims to inspire youngsters to reach for their dreams, whatever their background.”

Colonel Sir Edward Bolitho added: “The Spirit of Trevithick Award taps into a fresh sense of curiosity and discovery among the county’s youngsters and encourages them to apply their brilliant minds to the future of Cornwall. Through this first-of-its-kind award, we aim to build aspirations in science, technology, engineering and maths and nurture talent which in turn will help develop our ground-breaking industries.”

The first round of the Young & Talented Cornwall Spirit of Trevithick Award is now open to 16 to 23-year-olds, with applications closing in March. For more information and details of how to apply, see www.youngandtalentedcornwall.org

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