Gweedore to host MIT Under 35 Festival

Donegal coastal town chosen for MIT’s Innovators Under 35 Europe Festival.

Hugging the Atlantic coast, the Donegal town of Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair) is to be the focal point for some of Europe’s most promising tech innovators.

MIT’s Innovators Under 35 Europe Festival, one of the world’s most distinguished events honouring young technology pioneers, is coming to Ireland for the first time.

“We call all of these honorees ‘innovators’ because no matter their field, each is doing something original and impactful”

On May 19-21, Europe’s brightest innovators will gather in Gaoth Dobhair, Donegal, to showcase their work and meet other visionaries who are shaping the future and transforming lives through their technological advances. European and global leaders in innovation will also speak at the festival focusing on the transformative power of tech in creating a better world for all.

Since its creation, MIT Technology Review has been publishing an annual list of the most brilliant Innovators Under 35.

Notable alumni include Google Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, CRISPR Technology Pioneer Feng Zhang and Tesla Motors Co-Founder JB Straubel.

Honouring innovation and unpacking the future

Three women and a man hold a sign in front of a building in Donegal.

From left: Connla McCann, director, IU35 Europe; Cllr Jack Murray, Cathaoirleach, Comhairle Condae Dhún na nGall; Anna Ní Ghallchóir, chair, Údarás na Gaeltachta; and Natasha O’Hea, community manager, Catalyst. Image: Clive Wasson

The Innovators Under 35 Europe Festival is sponsored by Údarás na Gaeltachta, North West City Region Councils of Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council, NUI Galway, Catalyst, Open University, Unosquare and Atlantic Technological University. 

The Innovators Under 35 Europe award unites Europe’s community of young technological leaders and provides them with a platform to showcase their achievements in biotechnology and medicine, computer and electronics, hardware, software, Internet, artificial intelligence, robotics, telecommunications, nanotechnology and materials, energy and transportation.

Located at the edge of Europe and nestled beneath the Errigal Mountain, Gaoth Dobhair is a fitting location for rebooting the Festival after a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2022 Festival will celebrate a new generation of changemakers who are striving to solve society’s most pressing challenges as we begin to emerge from the Covid pandemic.

Mat Honan, editor of MIT Technology Review said that these pioneers are thinking differently about the future. They’re reimagining technology and re-evaluating traditional workplace models, recognising that distributed technology means that cutting edge innovation is no longer limited to urban centres.

“Innovators Under 35 honorees continue a tradition of mentorship, collaboration, discovery, and purpose that began in 1999,” Honan said.

“We call all of these honorees ‘innovators’ because no matter their field, each is doing something original and impactful. We unpack not only what they are doing, but help people understand its relevance not to the world at large. I’m really looking forward to hearing from this year’s European honorees.”

The call for applications is now open. Applicants must be from Europe and under 35 at the time of the event and have an innovative project that will transform the world. A committee of judges made up of experts from leading universities and companies will select the 35 winning candidates. The competition also recognizes five different categories of innovators: inventors, entrepreneurs, visionaries, humanitarians and pioneers who will partake in networking events, local activities including hiking and surfing, culminating in an awards gala.

To find out more about the Innovators Under 35 Europe Festival, visit:

“Exposure to high quality and innovative projects being led by Under 35s from our European neighbours and indeed other parts of Ireland will help to animate and inspire innovators in our Gaeltacht regions.” said Údarás na Gaeltachta CEO Micheál Ó hEanaigh.

“We look forward to collaborating with MIT Technology Review and all of the other partners to welcome the extremely talented young innovators, the excellent panel of judges and other contributors to the event being held in Donegal in May.”

A new meaning for Edge Computing

“By choosing this location, we wanted to demonstrate that in our connected world, no location is off-limits when it comes to innovation. The Atlantic edge– and places like it– will be the Centre of the new world,” said Connla McCann, Director of Aisling Events, which is hosting the festival.

“This is a rare opportunity to show off the phenomenal success of the Gteic hub network which is home to hundreds of entrepreneurs and innovators across the Gaeltacht. We will gather the young visionaries, humanitarians, entrepreneurs and innovators whose work today can make a real difference to the world we live in.

“Fighting climate change with revolutionary green-tech, harnessing the power of AI to improve the lives of millions, finding new ways to tackle Covid in low-income countries and building smart cities are all fields which will be featured in the 2022 Innovators Under 35 listing,” McCann said.

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.