Nesta launches £25,000 artificial intelligence prize for young people

The Longitude Explorer Prize has been launched by the innovation charity to encourage children to develop ideas around how artificial intelligence can help people.

Joe Lepper | 23rd Sep 19

Young people with ideas on how to use artificial intelligence (AI) for good causes are being offered the chance to win a £25,000 prize by the charity Nesta.

The innovation charity’s Longitude Explorer Prize is open to secondary schools and youth group teams of 11 -16 year olds on using tech to help “improve the world around them”.

This is across four themes of helping the elderly to stay independent and active, people’s health, transport links and green issues such as tackling pollution.

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The aim is to deliver the AI competition across the academic year and to help turn the children’s idea into reality. All finalists will be provided with mentors and product development support.

Up to 60 semi-finalists will be announced in January 2020, with 30 finalists shortlisted in April 2020.

The competition is free to enter and the winning entry will be chosen following a pitch in July 2020, when the winning team will win £25,000 for their school or group.


Harnessing tech for good causes

“By encouraging young people from all walks of life to harness tech to tackle issues they care about, we can generate practical ideas that will make a real positive impact,” said Tris Dyson, Executive Director of Nesta Challenges.

“AI is already all around us in our daily lives, so giving young people the chance to use it creatively as a force for good will help to demystify innovation while building their confidence and capabilities.”

The prize is backed with £1m in funding from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Previous winners have included Southlands School in Hampshire, which scooped the 2017 prize for developing a wearable device for those on the autistic spectrum.

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“Taking part in this prize is an amazing opportunity, regardless of whether you’re a finalist or not,” said Southlands School Teacher Guy Strath.

“As a teacher, entering any extra-curricular school competition means looking for value in terms of what the students get out of it, and this prize offers that in spades.”

“The design of this prize is part of what makes it so rewarding; the journey that those taking part go on is fantastic. From working together as a team and coming up with solutions, to then – if you’re lucky enough to be a finalist – being supported by expert mentors and meeting other schools with exciting ideas, the whole learning process is great.”