Onecom Dragons' Den style judges select school winners

An environmentally friendly 'smart bin' and an app to help busy families with household chores were the winning ideas from students in a Dragons' Den-style competition run by Onecom with Havant Academy.

Onecom CEO Darren Ridge returned to the Hampshire school, where he was a pupil 40 years ago, to judge the 'Predict the Future of Technology' contest.

He was joined on the judging panel by his wife Maria, who runs a jewellery business, his business partner Aaron Brown and Onecom Mobile Product Manager Emma Ward.

Pupils had been working hard to develop ideas based around the Internet of Things, a Onecom specialism.

They had developed their concepts with the help of teaching staff at the Academy, and a visit from Emma and Graham Doe, head of IoT at Onecom, halfway through the project for mentoring and support.

The judges heard the students pitch ideas ranging from a fashion app that could choose an outfit for any occasion to a car controlled by a Virtual Reality headset.

Two winners were chosen - Kaitlyn Wilson's Handy Household app, which reminded users about chores and tracked food stocks to help reduce waste, and a 'smart bin' concept developed by April Bushnell which encouraged users to recycle by awarding points and vouchers.

Kaityln and April received the competition's prizes of a Galaxy S8 smartphone with virtual reality headset and controllers.

Ridge, who was a pupil at the school in Leigh Park, Havant, when it was known as Wakefords in the 1970s, first launched the competition in November out of a desire to give something back to the community he grew up in, and to help find young people who could become future Onecom team members.

He said: "When we launched this competition, we had no idea how successful it would be - but we have been bowled over by the enthusiasm and ideas we have seen from the pupils.

"I have no doubt that there are future app developers and entrepreneurs here as well as young people who are definitely potential future Onecom employees.

"These young people have shown that they grasp the concepts at work and the limitless potential of the Internet of Things to transform the way we live and work in the future."

Victoria Adams, Head of School at Havant Academy, said: "The competition has created a huge buzz, and shown the young people how somebody from a background similar to theirs can go on to achieve great success through hard work and innovation."