Some of the brightest young people in the world have arrived in the Donegal Gaeltacht to network and showcase their innovations.

A total of 35 innovators, all aged under 35, have come through a rigorous competition to be chosen to attend the Innovators Under 35 Europe Festival, which is being held in Ireland for the first time.

Organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Review, they follow in the footsteps of previous high-profile innovators like JB Straubel, the co-founder of TESLA and Cynthia Breazeal, founder of healthcare robotics giant Jibo.

Ted Hu, Senior Manager of Licencing at the MIT Review said these are young people to watch and are likely to change the world.

They are chosen by judges who are experts in their field. By coming together, they get the chance to network with people from across the world who they might not otherwise meet.

The event is a recognition of their work in many different fields and puts it on the world stage, Mr Hu said.

Among this year's group of innovators is Alfons Carnicero Carmona from Spain, who is co-founder and CEO of a company called ABLE Human Motion, which designs and develops innovative exoskeleton technology.

They have developed a cheaper and lighter exoskeleton for people with lower limb difficulties and, he says, his mission is to "democratise" this technology so that it is accessible to anyone who needs it so that they can live a better life.

Sian Farrell, Chief Scientific Officer with StimOxyGen in Coleraine is working on developing a new treatment to improve the effects of cancer therapy. For her it is "quite surreal" to be at the event, but she believes it will highlight the work being done at the company, put it on people's radar and "let the world know that Ireland will have a world-leading cancer centre here".

Sian Farrell

It is no accident that Innovators Under 35 Europe is happening in the northwest, because one of the aims of the festival this year is, in the wake of the pandemic, "to showcase the potential to lead, command, innovate and build a more connected world and society from the edge of Europe."

Mr Hu says people can innovate from anywhere and that there are people all over the world working on the same things - like clean water, artificial intelligence and healthcare - and so it moves beyond the big cities.

Údarás na Gaeltachta, a sponsor of the event, its digital hub, the gteic, and other facilities in the Gaoth Dobhair area are facilitating the various activities over three days.

CEO Micheál Ó hÉanaigh sees it as a great opportunity to "not only put a focus on what Gaoth Dobhair and other Gaeltacht regions are achieving in terms of innovation, but that it may also inspire the next generation of innovators in the area".

"Over the past number of years, the Gaeltacht regions in Ireland have been global leaders in terms of rural innovation," Mr Ó hÉanaigh said.

"We have led the way on maritime development, green and clean tech, as well as significant innovation in terms of the healthcare sector. Events such as these will no doubt inspire the innovators of the future."