The Blue Angels from the Nelly Sachs School in Neuss – The overall winners.
The head of the team Christine Kone (on the left) and a friend from the Schulze Delitzsch School in Wiesbaden present “designer” watches created from recycled materials.

Green entrepreneurship

Go!clean youth competition

Enough to gladden the heart of any economics minister: some 70 pupil-run companies showed true entrepreneurial spirit and creativity with their highly original business ideas for the go!clean eco-project competition. The event was organised by the Munich Re Foundation and the Zeitbild Stiftung under the patronage of the German environment ministry.

Pupil enterprises are projects in which young people design, produce and sell their own products or provide a service. The companies are not registered, and turnover and profits are limited, but the young entrepreneurs adhere strictly to the rules that govern the world of business. Like their real-life counterparts, the firms have a fixed company structure and teachers and pupils assume commercial responsibility. The school teams work in their companies both during and outside school hours.

The go!clean competition focuses on projects that are based on sustainable concepts or further the cause of climate protection. The spectrum of fresh and successful business ideas ranged from “designer” watches made of recycled material to sophisticated and highly accurate data loggers for measuring temperature and Stellar-Solar-AG, a company that sells power generated on the school’s rooftops to the local municipal works.

The prize-giving ceremony for the best ideas was held during “ECOTEC 2007 – The Knowledge Market for Environmental Technologies” at the Zeche Zollverein site in Essen, Germany. The six prizewinners each received €500 and the overall winners, the “Blauen Engel” (Blue Angels) of the Nelly Sachs Secondary School received an additional special prize of €500. The Blue Angels seek to promote environment-conscious action in school and at home by selling brochures and recyclable material and giving on-site advice on how to save energy.

The Blue Angels had not expected to win: “Being newcomers to the field, we were really surprised when we won first prize – particularly since a lot of pupil enterprises have been around for some time and do a fantastic job. Over the last three months we have invested a lot of time in ensuring the business plan, articles of association and entry papers would be ready on time.”

Prior to the awards ceremony, two information workshops were held on the subject of pupil enterprises and the environment, and teachers and pupils were also able to find some inspiration and ideas for their own start-ups at an exhibition on pupil-run businesses.

“I am pleased that the pupils have understood there are very profitable business opportunities to be found in environmental protection,” said Thomas Loster, Chairman of the Munich Re Foundation. It is important to anchor the concept of ecological and economic responsibility early on. We will only bring about the necessary change in society’s mindset if we can get young people to support the idea. This was the main objective of the go!clean competition.

The Munich Re Foundation will continue to sponsor competitions for school pupils in Germany in the future to help ensure that a major target group supports the concept of sustainability. Watch this space.