Twenty-four high-ability 13- to 15-year-old students from various secondary schools in Malta and Gozo participated in the Julian’s Tech Start-up Challenge 2023, organised by Julian’s Pathfinder Foundation between  September 4 and 7 at the Mount St Joseph Retreat House.

The camp, held in collaboration with the University of Malta, consisted of a four-day residential event with activities focused on the central theme of artificial intelligence.

The AI theme brings together various concepts, covering cutting-edge sci-fi concepts, as well as the practical applications and ethical issues around these innovations.

The camp also had the objective of instilling an entrepreneurial mindset, giving the applicants a structured approach for developing innovative ideas.

In a fun, safe and respectful environment, participants followed a series of workshops, Q&As, and mentoring sessions led by experts in their respective areas, which enabled them to acquire essential transferable life skills.

Participants were divided into groups and developed their own AI application and presented their plans to an expert panel at the end of the programme.

A group of students presenting their own AI application.A group of students presenting their own AI application.

The panel was made up of Simon Grech (head, BOV’s commercial arm), Michael Azzopardi (director, EY), Amanda Holmes (board member, Melita Foundation), Anthony David Gatt (chief marketing officer, Malta Enterprise), Leonie Baldacchino (professor of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, University of Malta) and Matthew Caruana (CEO, JA Malta Foundation).

Speaking after the presentations, Grech expressed his satisfaction at the level of innovation of the proposals presented.

A showcase for intellectual abilities

“Such events provide a unique showcase for intellectual abilities, as well as high-level innovative ideas on how present and future generations can put into practice their respective intellectual abilities to make the world a better place through brainstorming and the creation of innovative product concepts,” he said.

 Grech also shared his admiration for the fact that, in presenting their projects, almost all groups sought to satisfy environmental and social responsibilities while still bringing together a commercially viable proposal. He compared such an approach to BOV’s mission to be at the forefront on ESG (environmental, social and governance) in the years to come.

BOV’s CEO Kenneth Farrugia  also attended the session.

The scope of Julian’s Pathfinder Foundation, set up in memory of Julian Spiteri, is to support gifted children in reaching their full potential and find their paths in life where they excel and make a positive contribution to society. The foundation aims to inspire young people to follow their dreams and think big about future technologies that will help make the world a better place.

BOV, in line with its ESG commitment, continues to contribute towards inclusive and equitable quality education as it continues to reinforce its strong belief that investing in today’s education will give the Maltese society a much better return in the future.

The bank’s collaboration with the foundation forms part of its CSR programme that aims to give back to society and support the various local communities in which it operates.

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