LOOKING for the country's next entrepreneurs and innovators?
Then the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition opens today and will crown its 50th winner on Friday.
John Monahan – the first winner – has told how it gave him "enormous self-confidence".
Mr Monahan (67), who won in 1965, is based in California and is behind two successful companies in Silicon Valley.
The Kildare native had his own laboratory at his family's farm growing up and spent his summer holidays completing his project.
"Being a scientist is like being an artist or musician, to some extent you're born with it and that was definitely the case with me but participating in this event definitely gave me enormous self-confidence," Mr Monahan said.
A record number of entries will be on show from today.
From the 2,000 applications received for this year's competition, the top 550 projects will be on display at the RDS until Saturday.
Up to 45,000 people are expected to spill through the doors and several past winners will be in attendance.
Also appearing will be astronaut Chris Hadfield, who became a sensation with his interstellar rendition of David Bowie's Space Oddity, will take in the creative inventions on Saturday.
"Chris is a rock star and I think people like him really do inspire people to do things differently," chief executive of BT Ireland Colm O'Neill said.
Each exhibit is assessed three times by the judging panel, made up of 82 individuals including past winner Peter Taylor, brother of Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor.