After a year-long entrepreneurial experience, developing their own company from the idea to reality, over 200 students gathered in Belgrade (Serbia) to compete with their counterparts from across Europe. 39 student-teams took part in the European competition, as part of JA Europe’s flagship JA Company Programme, which gives them the opportunity to set up and run a real business, supported by teachers and business mentors.
Bugman’s Best, a team from Etelä-Tapiola Upper Secondary School represented Finland after winning the national competition in April 2018. The team was chosen to be the 3rd best team in the overall competition and is in the top three of all companies in Europe. This is the best result for Finland in the JA Europe Company of the Year competition’s history.
Team SureLight from United Kingdom was awarded JA Europe Company of the Year 2018 thanks to their outstanding accomplishments during the three phases of the competition: stage pitching, jury interviews and stand exhibition. This award celebrates the student company that demonstrates the best approach to communication, teamwork, problem-solving, objective-setting, personnel management, product development, customer focus, marketing and financial results. Their company produces a smart brake light for bicycles. Team SureLight, as a group of cyclers, wanted to improve security by using car’s brake light technology and making it available for bicycles.
Bugman’s Best is a three member team from Espoo and consists of Toivo Hursti, Aaron Uussaari and Matias Järvinen. Their company is offering healthy, ecological and most of all delicious snack bars that contain plenty of locally grown house crickets.
The company’s goal is to have an impact on sustainable production of food by insect food, and the main jury of the competition liked this. The jury considered the idea internationally scalable and the jury felt and saw great growth from the team during the competition. Bugman’s Best looks far into the future.
Our next goal is to finalize our package and products and get them to grocery stores in Finland. Our own farming house for crickets will be ready during the summer and new products are coming in the fall, the team says.
The competition was also an excellent learning experience for Bugman’s Best, and they got many new things out of the event.
It was interesting to meet young entrepreneurs across Europe and to get to know them. We received valuable feedback from the jury and also new ideas for developing our business. Pitching in English in front of more than 200 people gave us experience that will certainly help us in the future.
JA Company Program alumni not only discover entrepreneurship, but they are more motivated for school and improve their performance in other subjects. This unique real-world program has a deep impact on young people’s entrepreneurial competences, financial capability and work readiness; it prepares them well for a fast-changing future,” said Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA Europe.
Last school year, the JA Company Programme counted over 340 000 participating students across 40 countries in Europe. Through the process of learning to run a company from top to bottom, the JA Company Programme students create and market real products and services. The success of the programme is largely down to the wide support from business volunteers, acting as mentors, offering expert advice to the students. Partnerships between education and business are essential to closing the gap between classroom theory and real-world challenges.
Winners of the different awards
JA Europe Company of the Year 2018 Awards
Winners: SureLight – UK www.surelight.bike
Second place: OKelvin JA – Italy www.okelvinja.com
Third place: Bugman’s Best – Finland www.bugmansbest.com
AT&T Excellence in IT Award recognizes the student-company showing the best innovation-driven concept, strong business potential, sustainability, viability and scalability.
Winner: Extinctus Enterprise – Portugal
Citi Foundation Client Focus Award recognizes student enterprises that excel at creating value for their clients, listening to their clients and walking in their shoes to understand their world, anticipating and serving their changing needs.
Winner: SureLight – UK
Delta’s Innovation Award recognizes the student company which has an innovative or effective approach for solving a problem or developing further a product, has a potential to prosper and has an international prospect; whose idea is easy to implement and has a functional business model.
Winner: Create – Israel
FedEx Access Award recognizes student-run businesses that best exhibit the principles of global connectivity.
Winner: Safe & Stable – Latvia
ManpowerGroup “Ready for Work” Award recognises those teams that have the best-built work readiness skills during the competition. This year, ManpowerGroup presented the award for the project with the most significant impact on developing learnability, a key component of work readiness.
Winner: Art of Joy (Kunsten å glede)– Norway