A group of teenagers aiming to find the next generation of software engineers through their Thinkspace for schools programme announced an offshoot project called Thinkspace Pioneers at the end of last week. 

Thinkspace, which has already won the backing of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, QI-presenter Stephen Fry, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, launched its designated coding-classroom idea back in September but Thinkspace Pioneers expands on this by inviting children aged 13-18 to apply with projects including mobile apps, websites and games.

Thinkspace founder James Anderson told Techworld: “Thinkspace Pioneers is an exclusive group of young entrepreneurs who we’re hoping will be the next group of Mark Zuckerbergs or Richard Bransons.”

These Pioneers will be tasked with spreading the core ideals of Thinkspace around the world, while driving the idea forward in their own schools and convincing other young people to get involved. 

The application process for the Pioneers programme opened last Friday and Thinkspace is already being inundated on Twitter with queries from eager teenage coders looking to benefit from some of the rewards that the programme has to offer.

Anderson said that although the Pioneers won’t be paid, they will be given the opportunity to attend some of the “most exciting” events in the technology sector and meet with key players, venture capitalists and other investors.

Applicants are only given 400 characters to pitch their idea, but they will learn if they’re successful within 72 hours of submitting their proposal and will be invited to participate in weekly or fortnightly networking and discussion sessions. They will also gain access to Thinkspace’s coding and development-centric social network.

“We expect to have several hundred Pioneers by next month,” said Anderson, adding that the application process will be ongoing.

The three 16-year-old entrepreneurs behind Thinkspace say there is currently a lack of opportunities for pupils to get involved with coding through the existing computing curriculum in the UK.

Anderson his business partners Kamran Malik and Oliver Bredemeyer want to put a Google-like classroom in every school to help address this, and have received interest from 400 schools since they launched the concept just a couple of months ago. 

"We’ve got a guide that we send out to schools with suggestions on how they can do a Thinkspace," said Anderson, adding that three pilot Thinkspaces have been built in Belfast, Cumbria and Plymouth at a cost of between £5,000 and £7,000.