Young, gifted and British

I suspect it might surprise some of you when I tell you that the biggest thing to come out of summer 2011 for me was a new found respect for the talents of Britain's youth.

It came thanks to my son's involvement in an organisation called Rewired State. This organisation runs hack days in which it pulls together some of Britain's brightest and best developers to help organisations thrash out the solutions to their digital problems.

This summer the group ran a week long hack for young developers most of whom have never worked together before, building web and mobile apps using government data. In five days my son and his fellow attendees not only created some immensely cool working apps but also a fair few red faces around government departments.

One child genius created a Food Standards Agency site that the organisation itself has been struggling with for eight months, it allows customers to check the cleanliness of a restaurant before you go.

To sound a little bit like a politician on the campaign trail for a second, standing there watching these kids I had a real feeling that I was looking at Britain's future.

Not just the kids themselves but what they were doing and the collaborative way in which they were doing it. It was almost like watching the birth of a whole new manufacturing industry (and we certainly need one of those).

I am not for one second saying that we don't have amazing developers and software designers out there already – just look at the UK's contribution to the gaming industry – but it seems like we aren't doing enough to turn software engineering and development into the engine for economic growth that it could and should be.

We let our manufacturing industry decline to the point of extinction yet suddenly it is the political growth imperative after the finance industry created economic meltdown, but you do need a cunning plan, government involvement and investment if we are to create new industries.

What was most impressive about it all was the imagination and innovation.

It's often been said that Britain is a nation of inventors (something Google's Eric Schmidt recently referred to it when he urged...

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