Cambridge LaunchPad teams up with Illumina to inspire students
STEM outreach programme Cambridge LaunchPad and genomics technology company Illumina have joined forces to deliver hands-on activities to children and young people.
A recent study by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) estimated the current talent shortage within the UK STEM sector to be 173,000 workers.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, IET highlighted the need for an increase in investment, resource, and collaboration between industry and the early education sector.
Illumina’s partnership with Cambridge Launchpad aims to address this by bringing its DNA Day programme to UK schools for the first time in Cambridge.
DNA Day has historically been a national day of celebration in the USA, celebrating the discovery and understanding of DNA, and the scientific advancements it has enabled.
In previous years, Illumina’s DNA Day programme of events and resources have reached 50,000 students in the US.
Around 2,000 primary and secondary students across Cambridgeshire took part in hands-on activities on April 25 to learn how to extract DNA from a strawberry.
By bringing genomics programmes into the classroom in exciting ways, the programme aims to ignite curiosity and inspire the next generation to see themselves as future scientists and innovators.
The activities were provided by Illumina and took place alongside career talks from their employees to showcase the wealth of careers available in STEM.
Jo Lee, senior manager, talent acquisition (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) at Granta Park-based Illumina, said: “Engaging with early talent and the local community is key to the success of not only our business but to inspire future talent with the endless possibilities available in our region.
“Illumina has ambitious growth plans over the next few years and believes a sustained investment in the future talent pool is vital to the success of both the company and the wider Cambridge business community. Joining Cambridge Launchpad enables early talent to see the opportunities available to them for future careers in a fun and impactful way.”
Simon Humphrey, regional lead for CSR and sustainability (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) at Illumina, added: “Joining Cambridge LaunchPad and delivering our first project day is part of a long-term investment that we will be making in developing the skills, and building the science capital and aspirations of young people.
“Being one of many inspiring Cambridge Launchpad-supporting organisations means we can be part of something much bigger and more impactful than if we were to deliver this on our own.”
Alongside delivering Cambridge LaunchPad project days, Illumina is also exploring other ways of engaging young people in STEM – including creating bespoke free STEM resources for science teachers – as part of Cambridge LaunchPad’s newly launched Resource Hub.
“Illumina aims to reach children and young people in Cambridge who wouldn’t otherwise get insight into careers in STEM, to open their eyes to the opportunities available, as well as engage with early talent and the local community more widely.”
Cambridge LaunchPad is managed by Form the Future, whose CEO, Anne Bailey, said: “We are delighted to welcome Illumina to the Cambridge LaunchPad programme.
“Their ethos aligns with ours – Illumina will undoubtedly help to bring STEM to life for school children and young people, providing valuable insights and role models at key stages of their development.”