Tech tycoon Peter Thiel has offered British teen Andrew Brackin £67,000 to help create new a tech company, on the condition that he must move to San Francisco and not attend university for at least two years.
Brackin is one of 20 young business people to be offered the cash, having made it through every round of the 2013 Thiel Fellowship's rigorous tests. The money will be used to help set up Bunchy, a platform to help charities and other organisations raise money using social networks. As well as funding, Brackin will receive tutelage and aid from Thiel and other participating Silicon Valley and San Francisco entrepreneurs.
The teen already has a track record of setting up companies. Prior to winning a sponsored spot with the fellowship, 18-year-old Brackin co-founded a marketplace for designers that already boasts 100,000 users and runs Tomorrow's Web, an event for young technologists. The fellowship was set up two years ago by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and is designed to offer young people an alternative to higher education.
Thiel said: "When we created the fellowship more than two years ago, our intention was to help a small number of creative people learn and accomplish more than they might have otherwise. To their great credit, they have exceeded our expectations, and inspired people of all ages by reminding them that qualities like intellectual curiosity, grit and determination are more important than a degree in determining success in life."
On this side of the pond, the Big Lottery Fund has its own plans to boost digital innovation and skills. It will invest £15m in partnership with the Go On UK charity to fund projects that will boost British citizens' cyber skills.
Big Lottery Fund chief executive Peter Wanless said: "Big has £15m available to the organisations who can demonstrate most convincingly to us how they will use the cash to turn the disconnected and disinterested into confident users of online services. We are alerting people now so potential applicants can develop the strongest and most convincing partnerships and plans that they can. We expect to fund only a handful of significant projects, so competition will be intense."
The fund is one of many UK initiatives designed to improve the UK's cyber skills. Prior to it the government pledged to invest £7.5m to create two new cyber security centres at Oxford and Royal Holloway Universities. The centres will be tasked to train 66 new cyber security experts over the next seven years.
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