Video: Bellaghy man in running for best new innovator

A Bellaghy man has taken the first steps in turning his unique and innovative idea into a successful global business, after making it to the prestigious finals of the Northern Ireland Science Park CONNECT INVENT 2014 competition.

John Arrell’s company Sixty- 5 was one of 24 businesses to take part in the dynamic “Quick Pitch” event in W5 in Belfast, sponsored by Bank of Ireland- and he has now made it into the final 12.

Bellaghy man John Arrell

Bellaghy man John Arrell

The shortlisted 24 pitched to an audience of over 200 guests and judges which included the prominent Head of Computing at University of Cambridge, Andy Hopper, and founder of international medical company TG Eakin, Tom Eakin.

With only three minutes in the spotlight, competition was fierce and the judges had the unenviable task of choosing the twelve ideas they saw as having the greatest commercial potential.

Sixty- 5, which has created farming apps to guide, control or assist agricultural field operations, and the other 11 finalists will now embark on a unique and invaluable six month programme which will see their ideas challenged and refined in order to turn their innovation into a successful commercial reality.

The winners of all six categories will win a slice of a £33,000 prize fund and take part in Northern Ireland’s most exciting tech mission this year-a week-long visit to San Diego and San Francisco, home to many of the world’s top business clusters in biotechnology, wireless communications, biofuels and sports technology.

San Diego is also the location for the elite fighter pilot academy on which the movie Top Gun was based.

NISP CONNECT Programme Manager, Peter Edgar said: “This essentially is the birth of 12 new companies which yesterday were only ideas for solutions to an everyday problem, and today are on the start of a journey which will see them finish with a viable business plan, and access to the best local entrepreneurial and sci-tech advice and networks, not to mention securing themselves a ticket to the for innovators in San Diego, and Silicon Valley.”