Young Oxfordshire innovators meet county business leaders at careers event

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Young people from  across Oxfordshire met with county most business leaders as part of a ‘transformative technologies’ tour aimed at inspiring the next generation to understand the opportunities that exist in the county.

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) arranged for several dozen A-Level and GCSE pupils from the county’s secondary schools to take part in a ‘behind the scenes’ tour, featuring some of the county’s most-innovative businesses.

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The tour – the first of its kind in Oxfordshire – covered four sectors identified in the county’s 2017 Science and Innovation Audit, areas that collectively have the potential to generate an additional £180bn GVA to the UK economy by 2030. These sectors being; digital health, space and satellites, connected and autonomous vehicles and technologies underpinning quantum computing,

Students toured world-leading sites with a global presence in these sectors, including Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Culham Science Centre, Oxford Science Park and Oxford University.

Young people heard from business leaders, including representatives from the European Space Agency (ESA), the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT) and Intuitive – the pioneers of robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery and the designers and manufacturers of the da Vinci surgical robot.

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The Transformative Technologies Tour has been set-up by OxLEP – in partnership with several world-leading Oxfordshire businesses – to inspire the county’s teenagers to understand the breadth of opportunities that exist across the county, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as they begin to make decisions about their own futures.

The event covered the various pathways into these sectors, with participants also getting the chance to speak to a number of apprentices currently studying at the newly-opened Oxfordshire Advanced Skills training centre.

Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said: “This Transformative Technologies Tour offers an exciting opportunity for some of the county’s teenagers to gain an understanding of some of the ‘world-class’ innovation taking place right here in Oxfordshire.

“Teenagers are at the heart of the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy’s ambition for the county to become a top-three global innovation ecosystem by 2040 – therefore, our world-class businesses must inspire our communities and their young people to ensure our future workforce is suitably-skilled and ready.”

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David Marante – Regional Director of Intuitive in the UK and Ireland – said: “As the global pioneer and a market leader in robotic assisted surgery, it is important for us to be part of a community that inspires and supports us as we continue to advance our innovations to reduce the comprehensive cost of care in treating patients with Da Vinci Surgery.

“We are pleased to collaborate with and give back to our local community through events like this.”

Lucy Pritchard – Head of Communications at Harwell Campus – said: “It’s vital that we invest time in inspiring future generations into STEM careers and open their eyes to the vast opportunities on their doorstep. Oxfordshire has a rich heritage in science and technology and will continue to do so, but it can only sustain itself if we ignite passion in young people and create opportunities for them to grow.”

Nigel Tipple added: “It is essential our business community continues to engage with our schools and offer such trailblazing opportunities to young people, in order to inspire the next generation and retain real talent”.