A Ballymena teenager has secured a significant summer internship at the Northern Ireland Science Park to develop her own start-up company.
Rebekah Loughlin is one of six teenage interns being hosted this summer by the Science Park’s Generation Innovation programme who will each have a unique opportunity to progress their own start-up business throughout July and August.
The 18-year-old Cambridge House Grammar School student is developing a website and mobile app which helps school students to decide which university to attend.
Each of the six finalists has been awarded a summer internship worth £2,000. In addition, the six teenage entrepreneurs have been assigned a mentor and will receive eight weeks of business coaching, including marketing, finance, legal and pitch training.
At the end of the summer, all six will pitch their business idea to a panel of judges with one teen securing an additional £10,000 prize and a year of mentoring to develop their business further.
Rebekah Loughlin said: “When choosing which university I wanted to attend, I found it very difficult to compare them. Having to go onto each university website individually to see requirement grades/employment rating/sport rating, for example, took numerous hours. This is a problem faced by thousands of people every year but yet nothing has been done to solve it.”
Dr Joanne Stuart, Director of Development at the Northern Ireland Science Park, said, “We were very impressed by all of the entrants and their innovations.
“The chosen six will now get the chance to develop their business further, with mentoring and guidance from our successful entrepreneurs in the Science Park network. It is this invaluable advice which will help them to challenge and ultimately refine their current business models.”
Tom O’Gorman, one of Northern Ireland’s most successful business investors, and Jim Finnegan, a key investor in local start-ups, both worked with the NI Science Park to develop the unique initiative.
Tom said: “It was inspiring to listen to all of the pitches and it was a hard task to pick our final six, but we believe that we have selected a strong and diverse mix.”