"Youth Start-Ups" is a nationwide, online business game contest organized by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Young people aged between 16 and 21 are invited to enter the competition and contribute their own business ideas in the industrial, trade and services sectors. The prerequisite is that they present an innovative product idea. The aim is to market the product successfully under realistic conditions in a virtual business world. Participants are supported by e-learning modules. Information on career guidance links up the virtual business world with the competitors' own career opportunities.
Unique about this concept is the combination of an ideas competition, an online business game contest, e-learning modules and an expert system. It also serves to encourage the skills defined in the national education standards.
Whether school students, trainees or young men performing military or alternative civilian service, the 16-to-21-year-old participants experience all stages of company development in this two-phase online business game. They come to know more about setting up and developing a company through self-organized learning. Supervision and support from a teacher is useful but not imperative. Participants can acquire the required knowledge themselves in different categories in both phases of the game (learning modules on the e-learning campus, avatar, glossary, self-testing).
All interested young people are entitled to participate in the "Youth Start-Ups" contest. However, only contributions by pupils and trainees in upper secondary education at grammar schools, comprehensive schools, specialized grammar schools and vocational schools and by young men performing their military or alternative civilian service will be considered for an award. Participants are encouraged to form teams.
The "Youth Start-Ups" online contest consists of two phases. Young people are entitled to submit applications and enter the competition during the entire period of the contest.
Participants begin by developing a business idea in the industrial, trade or services sector, taking into account production techniques, market potential and company objectives. They then draw up a business plan. Here they have online support from a business plan assistant. There is also a hotline for queries. The business plans are assessed by a panel of experts.
During the business game phase, the participants start, plan and manage their virtual company. The company's development over a total of four years is simulated. The school students receive specialist advice from a virtual Business Angel or from experts per e-mail. Participants entering the contest in Phase 2 can choose from set business plans.
The prize for the winning team is a trip to Silicon Valley (USA).
Examples of product ideas in recent years:
The aim of "Youth Start-Ups" is to
The "Youth Start-Ups" competition has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and conducted by the Steinbeis Transfer Centre for Company Development at Hochschule Pforzheim since 2003. The competition is among the nationally funded contests of the Conference of Länder Education Ministers (KMK); it is part of the network of national schools competitions (Arbeitsgemeinschaft bundesweiter Schülerwettbewerbe) and of the initiative to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in schools (Initiativkreis "Unternehmergeist in die Schulen").
The "Youth Start-Ups" competition is supported by a number of reputable sponsors. The main sponsor is Volkswagen AG. Other sponsors of the competition include Steinbeis Stiftung, Lenovo, Vodafone, DB Bahn, German National Library of Economics (ZBW), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Phaeno, Spiesser, TATA Interactive Systems GmbH, Titus GmbH, Verlagsgruppe Westermann and Wolfsburg AG.
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