Student company collects two awards at European Finals

Young Enterprise company Enlighten Hope have claimed third place at the Junior Achievement European Company of the Year Competition in Lucerne. Over 200 students gathered in the picturesque Swiss city between 25-28 July to celebrate the top student companies from across Europe. 36 teams competed as part of JA Europe’s flagship JA Company Programme, which gives them an opportunity to set up and run a real business.

After a long week of interviews and presentations to the judging panel, the winners were announced at a prestigious awards dinner held at the Grand Casino Luzern. Those in attendance included the President of Switzerland, who gave an inspiring speech to the audience of business professionals, teachers, staff, and of course the budding young entrepreneurs.

The team of inspiring students prevailed over 13 other student company finalists to be named Young Enterprise UK Company of the Year 2016 earlier this month.  It is the first time that a company from Northern Ireland has progressed this far in the competition in over 20 years.

The student company Enlighten Hope have written and illustrated a series of three short stories that deal with the side effects of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a child friendly way. They have expanded their product internationally – visiting publishers in Dublin and New York, and securing a deal to sell the books on the Amazon Kindle Store. This group of determined young entrepreneurs even took it upon themselves to purchase an ISBN for their products. They recently secured a deal with Libraries NI to stock the books in six libraries across Northern Ireland. The books can be borrowed from Belfast Central, Coleraine, Derry Central, Dungannon, Enniskillen and Portadown Libraries for free and can be requested through any public library in Northern Ireland. During the Young Enterprise Company Programme, the team were mentored along the way by 2 business advisors from HSBC, who offered their wealth of business experience to the company.

Enlighten Hope had double success on the night, with Managing Director, Iveta Liovinaite, collected the Alumni Leadership Award, supported by AXA, along with 9 other young leaders. Iveta commented: “It has been such a privilege to participate in the Young Enterprise Company Programme this year.  As Managing Director of Enlighten Hope I speak on behalf of the team when I say that this has been a life changing experience for us all.  We are more assured than ever that ‘Learning by Doing’ really is the best means of education.  Our personal development in terms of business acumen, confidence, ability and self-belief has surpassed our wildest dreams.   We want to thank the organisers of Young Enterprise for providing us with the opportunity to become more educated, independent and organised as individuals and team players.”

Congratulations to the winning company, SubReader from Denmark. They impressed the judges with their app that helps dyslexic people read subtitles on international TV and movies aloud. It operates independently of TV or other media and does not require any difficult setup.

Carol Fitzsimons, CEO of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland commented: “Enlighten Hope are truly an inspirational group of young people. Their Company programme journey began with us in September and their passion, work ethic and determination to succeed has impressed throughout. They are a shining example of the workplace skills and confidence developed by young people through participation in our Company programme, and highlight how important it is that every child in Northern Ireland should get this opportunity.”

Main Jury Members:

  • Ruedi Noser, CEO of Noser Management AG
  • Sidse Frich Østergaard-Thygesen, Senior Consultant, The Think Tank DEA
  • Andrew Lofts, Business Excellence Director, Ricoh Europe
  • Frederic Boedt, Director, Deloitte
  • Massimo Pelaia, Chief Marketing Officer at TAU-MA
  • Claudio Rossi, Founder, polarlab AG
  • Brian Sidorsky, Owner and CEO of Lansdowne Equity Ventures Limited
  • Alen Dobrić, Deputy CEO of UniCredit Bank Serbia
  • Inger Lise Blyverket, Director Negotiations & Labour Policies, Enterprise Federation of Norway
  • Cédric Boehm, Zone EMENA Strategic Planning, Nestlé
  • Guntars Kokorevics, Chairman of Council, TAK Investment

JA Europe Company of the Year 2016 Awards:

  • Winners: SubReader, Denmark
  • Second place: Irdify, Slovakia
  • Third place: Enlighten Hope, UK