By Marc Allera, CEO of BT Group’s Consumer division – originally posted on BT.com
At BT, we connect for good. As CEO of BT’s Consumer brands, I talk a lot about that purpose and how it is at the heart of everything we do. As a national champion, BT has a responsibility beyond connecting our customers. Our scale and reach puts us in a unique position as a tech company where we can lead the way in creating a brighter, more sustainable future for the UK.
That same ambition is behind the Tech4Good Awards, which BT co-founded with AbilityNet more than 10 years ago. The Tech4Good Awards recognise organisations and individuals who use digital tech to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place. With AbilityNet, our goal is to shine a spotlight on these inspiring stories and help others learn how they can use technology to do good.
So I’m excited to see that entries are open for this year’s T4G awards – and in particular the 2021 BT Young Pioneer award. The BT Young Pioneer Award shines a light on innovation and creativity and uncovers amazing tech ideas that are borne out of issues that young people care about. It is s part of BT Skills for Tomorrow initiative, a completely free programme that aims to help 10 million people make the most of life in the digital world.
Our most recent Young Pioneer award winners are an inspiration. In 2020, Dorothy, Justine and Sonia took the title for their Dimming Dyslexia App, which works to analyse texts and resources that students are using and translate them into an easier format to comprehend such as cartoons, videos or certain fonts that will better assist them with their particular needs, such as the dyslexic font Open Dyslexic. In 2019, our winner was Mihika Sharma whose ‘Smart Stick’ has built-in sensors to help blind people walk safely by themselves and negotiate obstacles.
This year, as the clouds of Covid begin to lift, I’d encourage everyone to turn their minds and actions toward tackling another major challenge we all face: the damaging effects of climate change. At BT, we’ve been working hard towards our goal of becoming a net zero emissions business. And in 2021 we want to use the Young Pioneer Award to find a new generation of tech entrepreneurs and inventors who are thinking about new solutions that can support climate action, helping us to reduce CO2 emissions or environmental waste in our day-to-day lives.
The BT Young Pioneer award is free to enter and open to anyone between the ages of nine and 18 based in the UK. The eventual winner will also be supported with up to £10,000 in funding to help realise their idea, alongside access to BT experts with relevant skills who will volunteer their time to help bring the idea to life. Entries for the 2021 awards close on 9 May.
The timing could not be better. COP 26, the United Nations climate conference, is taking place in Glasgow this November with governments and climate leaders. Covid restrictions permitting, BT wants to showcase the winner’s idea as part of activities surrounding the conference. It’s a great place to show the world how we’re helping a new generation of inventors Connect for Good.
Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @marcallera