Young Innovators Awards inspire

The Western Bay of Plenty Young Innovators Awards are now in their seventh year and are responsible for opening many young people’s eyes to the possibilities of a career in innovation.

YIA project manager Stacey Jones says the awards provide a platform for the Bay Of Plenty's community to build a culture of innovation.

“For our sub-region to compete within a rapidly changing global economy, employers will increasingly require employees to have the confidence and ability to think creatively and outside the box.  The awards continue to grow, validating the success of the programme and our vision for the future,” she says.

“Last year we received over 150 entries with some hugely innovative creations from an offshore rescue craft to a mobile application to protect children - a true testament to the creative minds within the Bay."

The awards are a collaboration between Priority One’s Instep Programme, Plus Group Horticulture, Bluelab, and Woods, the Creative Agency. Priority One is the Western Bay of Plenty’s economic development organisation.

Catalyst Ltd’s Wymond Symes was a judge and mentor for the awards in 2011 and has maintained a strong interest since then, offering support and attending the launch and awards ceremony every year.

This year, for the first time, there is a category for intermediate students (Years 7 and 8) called the Bright Idea Challenge in partnership with the House of Science, run alongside the Junior (Years 9 and 10) and Senior (Years 11 to 13) categories.

Top placegetters in each category win cash prizes of up to $2000, sponsored by some of the Bay’s leading innovation businesses, and there is a summer internship up for grabs for the senior students.

“At YIA our ‘how’ is all about ‘learning by doing’. That’s why we give our winners a money can’t buy YIA internship to help them progress their idea further and gain experience working alongside leading innovation businesses in the Bay,” Stacey says.

A video of last year’s internship winner can be viewed at

“Many businesses could do worse than to follow the process these students work through to come up with innovative solutions for issues facing society,” Wymond says.

“Whether it be a drip-free ice cream cone, a health and wellbeing app for long distance air travel or a fitable gel handle to improve comfort when using crutches over a long rehab period, past winners have started with an idea and come up with a potential product or service through a process of research, market validation and feasibility.”

All you need to come up with a great idea is a good imagination and a pencil. Find out how you could win up to $2000 at

YIA has also designed a paper plane make-a-thon where participants can experience innovation first-hand and have the chance to win Bayfair Gift Cards. If you think you have what it takes to be one of tomorrow's innovators head to the Bayfair Shopping Centre from 18-22nd April, 10-2pm.

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