Technology competition sends CEO back to school

Entrepreneur Darren Ridge returned to his old school 40 years after he left to challenge students to predict the future of technology in a competition devised by Polymedia.

Darren, CEO of Whiteley-based business communications company Onecom, took assembly at Havant Academy, Leigh Park and talked to pupils about his time at the school, then known as Wakefords.

After describing how he went from humble beginnings to lead a leading telecoms firm turning over £100m a year, Darren launched a Future of Tech competition, inviting the young people to think of an app, service or technology idea that could transform lives.

Students signed up in two age groups, to work with Academy staff and a mentor from Onecom to develop their ideas over five weeks. They were briefed to come up with ideas based around the Internet of Things, tying the contest to a Onecom specialism which involves the use of smart devices connected by high-speed internet.

Darren returned to the school to hear their Dragon's Den-style pitches, eventually choosing two winning ideas - one for an environmentally-friendly "smart bin" and the other for an app to help busy families log household chores.