“Hi from sunny San Francisco!” In their first email home, the winning team of the “Youth Start-Ups – Entrepreneurial Talents of 2011” competition sent warm greetings back to the nonprofit innovation center at the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Business Development at the University of Applied Sciences in Pforzheim. The group was on a trip to Silicon Valley (USA) last September as part of their prize for taking first place in the business game competition “Youth Start-Ups.” The trip was paid for by Steinbeis.
“Apparently, we’ve been in the USA for 24 hours already – unbelievable how time flies. By 3:00 p.m. we’d already visited Intel and Google,” wrote Mirko Articus, Jakob Wegmann, Emanuel Urmann and Maurizio Wack, the young entrepreneurial talents, in their email to the transfer center.
The students from the Schloss Hansenberg boarding school in Geisenheim, Hessen (Germany) were able to try their hand at consulting on a new company project at Detecon, a subsidiary of the German Telekom company. They then enjoyed a sightseeing tour through San Francisco, visiting Lombard Street, Russian Hill and the Golden Gate Bridge. They were also given exclusive access to the “Green Flight Challenge”, a competition sponsored by NASA in which participants square off with energy-efficientaircraft designs. It was a unique opportunity for them to take a peek behind the scenes. The students were also able to talk with the various teams about their designs and take a closer look at the models.
The next day, it was off to the prison island of Alcatraz. After this, the students visited the beautiful campus of Stanford University. While meandering around the campus, the students took in the guided tour and soaked up the Californian sun – a wonderful way to become more closely acquainted with the university. Since innovation was in the foreground at “Youth Start-Ups,” the next stop was Talent House, a startup which helps artists and companies organize competitions to promote their image and brand awareness.
As the day came to an end, there was one last stop on the agenda: a visit to Tesla, an electric vehicles manufacturer. There the young entrepreneurs were able to take a seat in one of these modern cars and work on their very own personalized design.
The icing on the cake was a visit to the Volkswagen Design Center, where VW and Audi prototypes are developed. The modern complex only opens its doors to about 50 visitors per year. The Youth Start-Ups winners were greeted by Jae Min, chief designer at the design center, who gave a brief presentation on the projects of the last few years. This was followed by standard tourist fare: Beverly Hills, the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign – the list goes on and on…
“Youth Start-Ups” is a business game competition for new and innovative business ideas and startups. The online competition is held nationwide, and is initiated and sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The nonprofit innovation center at the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Business Development at the University of Applied Sciences in Pforzheim has assumed responsibility for the project.
The project allows teachers to add interesting content to the curriculum and introduce students and trainees to business and economic principles through practical examples that also ignite the motivation of the students. Participants in the two-phase competition first work up an innovative business concept for the manufacturing, service or retail industry. Once established, they then get to run their own virtual business.