Ed Vaizey: “A Geek Heaven – That’s What We Want The UK To Be”

Politicians and businesses get behind Campus Party technology festival in London

UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey said that getting young people interested in IT was “what the UK was all about” at the launch of Campus Party in London earlier this week.

Vaizey said that projects like the Campus Party- which has brought some 10,000 young tech enthusiasts to the O2 in London –  complement government initiatives such as the introduction of more ICT subjects into the school curriculum.

The event, billed as a “Glastonbury for geeks”, is sponsored by Telefonica (better known as O2 in the UK), and consists of a week of talks, workshops and live performances, with speakers including open source icon Jon “maddog” Hall, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Wired UK editor David Rowan, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes, “father of the Internet” Vint Cerf, and “grandfather of the Internet” Lois Pouzin.

Campus Party London runs until Saturday, 7th September.

The producers

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd welcomed the event on Tuesday, as one hundred 17 and 18 year olds attended bespoke digital skills workshops.

CAMPUS PARTY“To give our young people the best chance of competing in the global race, we want to give them the opportunity to go from being prolific users, to producers of new digital products and content,” said Hurd.

“I know this is just the starting point of the innovation such educational campaigns can provide. I look forward to supporting O2, Make Things Do Stuff, other partners and our young people in their digital quest.”

Campus Party aims to “inspire a generation of young people to become digital makers”, and to avoid missing any inspirational content, the attendants are encouraged to camp on-site. Shared two-person tents are provided by the organisers, in the London Soccer Dome, near the O2.

The first event was organised in Spain way back in 1997, and brought together 250 participants. Sixteen years later, and the Campus Party in London features eight stages, over 100 speakers and over 500 hours of content on topics including robotics, astronomy, free software and game development.

“Now more than ever before, digital offers the chance to drive sustained economic recovery, but this will only be realised if we become a nation of digitally confident businesses with a digitally literate workforce. The onus cannot be on the Government alone. Businesses must proactively seek out opportunities to collaborate to maximise the digital growth opportunity and harness the potential of the next generation,” said Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefónica UK.

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