Out of the Classroom and Into the Real Economic World
Recently, 202 students, 42 teachers, 23 jurors, 30 CEOs, 86 staff and 113 guests from all over Europe headed to the German capital of Berlin. Any idea what brought them together? Their goal was very ambitious: They wanted to be identified as the best student company in Europe at the annual “Junior Achievement Europe Company of the Year Competition.”
Before travelling to Berlin, the students previously worked over the course of a school-year in their home countries, all crowned with great success. Their tasks included running their own company, and creating and marketing real products and services. The students participated in different local and regional competitions and the winner of the national competition in each country was entitled to go to Berlin.
A high-level panel of international judges examined the contestants. Amongst others, they evaluated the students´ approach to teamwork, problem-solving, objective-setting, product development, customer focus, marketing and sales, as well as the mini-companies´ financial results.
Prof. Dr. Michael Hüther, Chair Judge of this year´s competition and Director of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, explained the jury´s criteria: “What distinguishes entrepreneurs from people who have an idea? Entrepreneurs go out there and do it, and the entrepreneurial spirit to do so is something that the jury wanted to see.”
In order to narrow the gap between the classroom and real-world business, Junior Achievement is partnering with global businesses. FedEx, for example, has been a key global sponsor of the event since 2007. Each year, a “FedEx Access Award” is given to the student company that best demonstrates their understanding of global trade as well as the nature of today’s business world.
This year´s FedEx Access Award went to a company that developed new sustainable products with recycled automotive parts by turning buckle tongues into unique bottle openers and seat belts into fashionable bags. 24 students from the Northern part of Germany created Rauteck. The name is the German acronym for recycled auto parts Eckernförde; and the latter is the name of their hometown. During the past year, the young entrepreneurs have established a sucessful cooperation with local car disposal companies, as well as an internationally operating supplier of vehicle safety systems and further partners.