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Young Innovator Awards A Celebration For Bay Of Plenty Youth

A Pāpāmoa College student who came up with the idea for a daily wellbeing check-in app has taken out the Intermediate People’s Choice Award at Priority One’s 2023 Young Innovator Awards (yia!) in Tauranga.

Layla Clarke’s app idea was one of many award-winning innovations celebrated at the yia! prizegiving on Wednesday evening.

Layla named the winning app ‘Emotional Attendance’, designing it to allow the user to seamlessly check and track their feelings – a critical need for today's youth.

In its 14th year, more than 670 people from nine Western Bay of Plenty schools registered to take part in the yia! challenge for 2023.

yia! is dedicated to nurturing students' innovation and problem-solving capabilities with the goal of shaping them into future leaders to support the region as a growing destination for innovation.

It is a design-thinking programme focused on students identifying real-world problems and creating innovative solutions. It offers a hands-on approach allowing them to gain first-hand experience in the intricacies of the innovation process, fostering skills in design thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication.

Since its inception, yia! has engaged over 10,000 rangatahi from across the Western Bay of Plenty, resulting in the submission of over 2000 innovative team projects. Additionally, the programme has successfully collaborated with more than 250 innovation leaders and businesses.

Priority One’s yia! Project Manager, Meg Davis, says there were 36 finalist teams and 86 finalists who made it to the yia! finals this year.

“It’s incredible to see the young talent we have in the Western Bay. The calibre of entries this year was impressive – and the greatest number of entries we’ve had, so it’s exciting to see increasing numbers of rangatahi innovating and embracing their big ideas.”

Davis says while each category could only have one winner, all entries were truly inspiring, and all participants should be proud.

“The innovation and creativity we see each year is nothing short of outstanding. These rangatahi are passionate and thrive off the opportunity to connect with some of our leading innovators. We continue to see the remarkable growth and innovation of young minds in the Bay of Plenty.”

Priority One partners with Bluelab, Woods, The Shine Collective and Cucumber to deliver the programme, with sponsors including Robotics Plus, BECA, Page Macrae Engineering, Datacom and the University of Waikato.

Bluelab CEO, Jono Jones, says the yia! programme is a vital initiative in preparing today’s students for the workforce.

“In our rapidly changing world, where technological progress is reshaping industries at an unprecedented rate, innovation is no longer a choice; it has become an absolute imperative.

“The jobs of the future remain beyond our current imagination, underscoring the urgent need to equip the upcoming workforce with an innovation-mindset rooted in creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, and effective communication.

“Bluelab's continued success hinges on today's students evolving into the skilled workforce of tomorrow, and we view the yia! program as a vital initiative in teaching these essential skills.”

Izzy Hume and Nina Young from Tauranga Girls’ College took out the Junior People’s Choice Award, while the Senior category winner was a student from Tauranga Boys’ College, Wonyoung Chang.

The yia! programme is known as one of the highlights on the school calendar and offers local students from Years 7 – 13 a hands-on chance to develop an innovative product or service that addresses real-world problems.

The programme is delivered by Western Bay of Plenty economic development agency, Priority One, in partnership with local businesses and schools.

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