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The new generation of entrepreneurs: students breathe new life into Europe’s entrepreneurship

What do “Money Tree”, “YBO”, “E-wear” and “SKY5” have in common? These are the names of firms or products produced by students (aged 18+) running a mini-company as part of their higher education, under the mentoring of their professors and business volunteers.

These graduate companies trade with real products and real money and operate in real business life. The student companies behind these products competed in the JA-YE Europe Graduate Programme Competition hosted by JA-YE Norway in Oslo, 26-29 June, 2007.

“If young people are able to see the multitude of opportunities that are available to them, they will re-invent the future and be able to contribute actively in promoting sustainable development. This is a necessity if we want to create a world that we’ll be proud to hand over to our children. And this is ultimately innovation’s main contributions to society,” said HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway in his opening speech.

Prizes were awarded for outstanding achievement. The high-level panel of judges assessed each student company on innovation, originality and presentation of products and services. “Money Tree” from Netherlands was named as the Best Company with the best business plan, market analysis and innovative product.

“There is no Money Tree in my garden. Everybody has heard this expression, but nobody does actually have a money tree in the garden. That is the reason why we are going to give people the chance to plant their own “Money Tree”. We want to achieve this by producing a coin from which a plant can grow. The golden coin can be planted directly into the ground. When it comes in contact with water it will gradually dissolve, after which your own money tree will start to grow. After a few weeks you will have your own Money Tree growing in your backyard”, said Maikel van Heugten, the president of the company.

The second prize went to Belgium, to YBO, which created ”Snatch”, a small plastic loop that can be attached to the user’s clothing by two little magnets. The loop can be used to carry sunglasses and other things, diminishing the risk of fracture or damaging. The team also won the NORDEA Award for Best Investment Proposal.

The third prize was awarded to “E-WEAR” from Romania, which created a stylish vinyl cover with an underneath adhesive surface to both protect and individualize laptops.

The FERD Award for Most International Potential went to “SKY5” from Switzerland for their innovative proposal to increase the advertising potential of sports events in particular by projecting various advertisements simultaneously and globally via an airship.

There are 20000 students in the JA-YE Graduate Programme for Entrepreneurship in Europe this year and statistics show that more than 29% of these graduates will go on to succeed as fully-fledged entrepreneurs which is equivalent to approximately 6,000 enterprises.

Diana Filip | alfa
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