The awards celebrate businesses, charities and individuals who use digital technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place. They’re judged by a panel of experts with decades of combined experience working within organisations including Microsoft, BT and Comic Relief.
Northern Ireland’s first ever FabFarm combines innovative Aquaponic farming methods, of using water and fish for vegetable growing, with new digital fabrication techniques and equipment.
It was was launched just ten months ago, through an exciting partnership with students from the Playtrail and Ardnashee School and College and Nerve Centre’s FabLab.
Funded by Comic Relief, almost 100 young people have already been involved in the region’s first social enterprise aquaponic digital farm, from initial concept, design to build and maintenance.
Students undertake an accredited training programme in Digital Fabrication & Design and through a newly created Social Enterprise the project allows the young people to sell the produce from the farm to local businesses.
John Peto, Director of Education at Nerve Centre, welcomed news of the win: 'We are delighted that FabFarm has been recognised for leading the way in using new and emerging technologies to help empower, engage and inspire young people with special educational needs. We’ve already seen how it can advance their skills in digital technology and design, programming and electronics, all of which will equip the students for the modern workplace.
'We don’t know of anyone else in the world that is doing this yet – not only operating an Aquaponic Farm but designing and building it themselves, we are very proud that this is happening here in Derry before anywhere else.'
Mark Roberts, Director of the Playtrail, added further praise: 'The FabFarm is a brilliant project - providing digital skills and social enterprise opportunities to young people in Derry with disabilities is innovative and empowering. We are delighted to see this recognised at such a prestigious event and we are looking forward to taking the project to an even higher level from here.’