The brightest and the best gather in Dublin for first 'Davos for students'


Forty of the world’s brightest students met Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday as part of the inaugural Undergraduate Awards Summit.

The students were brought to Dublin for a three-day summit, considered a “Davos for students”, consisting of networking events, talks and hands-on workshops on topics such as “Batman v Einstein: Are Academics the New Superheroes?”, “Where is that Corporate Ladder How Do I Get On?” and “Unleashing Your Inner Misfit”.

“The Undergraduate Award winners represent the foremost minds and new ideas emerging from the world’s third-level institutions.

“It is wonderful to see that this impressive Irish initiative is not only supporting these students at this important juncture in their lives but also gathering them here in Ireland,” Mr Kenny said.

The three days of events, which began yesterday, also include a forum on higher education, which will bring together leaders, pioneers and academics from around the world to discuss disruptive education and the impact of technology on traditional approaches to learning.

“The forum on higher education will showcase alternative models of higher education including Open University, Coursera and iVersity. It will look into taking academia out of the classroom and putting technology in,” programme director Louise Hodgson said.

Conference speakers include Conrad Wolfram, recently named as one of Britain’s 50 “new radicals” for his disruptive theories on maths education; Start-up Britain founder Rajeeb Dey, who at 26 is the World Economic Forum’s youngest “young global leader”; and author Kyra Maya Phillips, who recently researched the similarities between Google and gangsters. The forthcoming book The Misfit Economy, which she co-authored, looks at the lessons the black market offers about innovation.

Pop-up incubation day

Award winners and nominees will be joined by a selection of international young entrepreneurs, researchers and graduate recruiters for what has been called a pop-up incubation day, which takes place today.

Founded by Paddy Cosgrave and Oisín Hanrahan, the Undergraduate Awards is an Irish initiative that identifies future pioneers and leaders during their undergraduate research.

More than 2,890 submissions were received from students across Europe and North America, which 180 judges spent two months assessing.

The judges included economist Constantin Gurdgiev, Teagasc director Gerry Boyle, art critic Aidan Dunne, economist Brian Lucey, historian Professor Eugenio Biagini and Prof John Feerick, dean emeritus of Fordham law school.

The 39 award winners, who include 21 Irish students, were selected as winners, for projects on a diverse range of topics including gene silencing and contagion in the euro zone sovereign debt crisis.

The conference will end tomorrow with the presentation of awards by President Michael D Higgins to winners at a ceremony at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham.