Last week saw the much-anticipated return of the Young Innovator Prize live final. Now in its second year, the Young Innovator Prize has grown to become an important event for young people in the Midlands. Conceived by Millennium Point Trust, the Young Innovator Prize is an initiative designed to encourage young people to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) and ensure the region retains its reputation as one of the UK’s centres of innovation and research.

Each year, the prize awards one talented sixth form student a place on a sponsored undergraduate degree at Birmingham City University in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment (CEBE). This year, after fighting off stiff competition from six other finalists, the prize was awarded to Abigail Lavercombe from St Martin’s School in Solihull. Abigail, who impressed the panel of judges with her presentation on ‘Urban Futures: Birmingham in 2065’, will also gain experience in the workplace through a summer placement with Millennium Point and other institutions around the city.

Like last year, the quality of the finalists really was outstanding and it made the judging process extremely difficult. On behalf of the Millennium Point Trust, I would like to thank all of our finalists, including Hassan Haji and Ahmed Ali-Sheik from St Alban’s Academy, Raja Khan from Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College, Anwar Patel and Wahid Miah from Holte School, and our runner up – Jonathan Thompson from South and City College Birmingham – for all taking part. A big thank you is also due to Robin Ince for hosting the event and the other judges – Simon Handley, associate dean for academic portfolio and market development from Birmingham City University and Lauren Deere, museum manager at Thinktank.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a huge congratulations to Abigail for winning the prize. Abigail is a worthy winner who impressed us from the offset – from her video entry at the application stage, which explored her interests in overpopulation and recycling, to her presentation on the night, which was delivered with such enthusiasm and confidence. It’s always an honour to award any young person the winner of the Young Innovator Prize, but with gender imbalance still an issue in the world of STEM, it’s fantastic to be able to help a talented young lady like Abigail pursue a successful career in engineering.

We wish Abigail all the best for her degree at Birmingham City University and please do keep an eye on the Millennium Point website for updates on her progress.

Judith Armstrong, CEO at Millennium Point and judge at the Young Innovator Prize live final, Thursday 17th March 2016.