SureLight from UK Wins JA Europe Company of the Year


July 25, 2018

SureLight from UK Wins JA Europe Company of the Year

Reprinted from JA Europe

After a year-long entrepreneurial experience, developing their own company from the idea to reality, over 200 students gathered in Belgrade (Serbia) to compete with their counterparts from across Europe. Thirty-nine teams took part in the European competition, as part of JA Europe’s flagship JA Company Program, which gives them the opportunity to set up and run a real business, supported by teachers and business mentors. 

Winners of the national competition in UK, team SureLight has been awarded JA Europe Company of the Year 2018 thanks to its outstanding accomplishments during the three phases of the competition: stage pitching, jury interviews, and stand exhibition. This award celebrates the student company that demonstrates the best approach to communication, teamwork, problem-solving, objective-setting, personnel management, product development, customer focus, marketing, and financial results. 


SureLight impressed the jury, chaired by Zoran Petrović, Chairman of the Managing Board at Raiffeisen, with its smart brake light for bicycles. Team SureLight, as a group of cyclers, wanted to improve security by making car's brake-light technology available for bicycles. SureLight not only won the title of Company of the Year, they also won the Citi Foundation Client Focus Award, and two teams members were recognized with the JA Alumni Leadership Award supported by AXA.

"We’ve learned so many lessons taking part in the JA Company (Young Enterprise) programme, running a student company alongside an intense school curriculum. I really hope it can inspire further generations, because there is no other way to learn to be an entrepreneur than just do it yourself," shared Ben Ray, Managing Director of SureLight

“We are about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the JA Company Programme. Because it is experiential, hands-on and involves business volunteers, it continues to inspire thousands of young people in more than 100 countries year after year. JA Company Programme alumni not only discover entrepreneurship, but they are more motivated for school and improve their performance in other subjects. This unique real-world programme has a deep impact on young people’s entrepreneurial competences, financial capability and work readiness; it prepares them well for a fast-changing future,” said Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA Europe.

Last school year, the JA Company Program counted over 340 000 participating students across 40 countries in Europe. Through the process of learning to run a company from top to bottom, the JA Company Program students create and market real products and services. The success of the program is largely down to the wide support from business volunteers, acting as mentors, offering expert advice to the students. Partnerships between education and business are essential to closing the gap between classroom theory and real-world challenges.

FedEx Express Rewards Young Entrepreneurs Ready to Access New Markets

FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp (NYSE: FDX), awarded its signature FedEx Access Award to student-run company Safe & Stable, from Latvia, at the JA Europe Company of the Year Competition.


FedEx Express has supported JA Europe for over a decade. The support given to its Company Program allows increasing numbers of young people to access entrepreneurial education alongside formal academic schooling.

“FedEx connects companies to new markets as part of our everyday business. Through the FedEx Access Award, we are able to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to set ambitious targets for responsible international growth,” said Harald Schoenfelder, Vice President of Clearance Operations, FedEx Express Europe.

The signature award was designed to incorporate the notion of “access” into the core thinking of future entrepreneurs. It recognizes the student-run company that best demonstrates innovation, a readiness to access global markets, a contribution to socio-economic development, and a responsible approach to environmental sustainability.

Safe & Stable, a company established by three mechatronics students from Valmiera Vocational Training Centre, Latvia, took home the award having developed and manufactured a technologically advanced walking cane, aiming to improve ease of navigation and mobility for blind people.

“We’re so happy that FedEx Express recognised the innovation in our product and the social purpose that drove us during its development. Winning the FedEx Access Award reinforces that our product is applicable to all markets. We are proud to have combined our mechanical, technical and programming skills with the entrepreneurial learning we gained through this program, to develop a product that can really improve the safety and confidence of blind people,” said Ēriks Eduards Lapsa, technical developer of the Safe & Stable cane.

“As a global company, itself founded by an entrepreneur, FedEx Express brings a valuable perspective to the students in the JA Company Program. This is often their first entrepreneurial experience and the FedEx Access Award is a unique opportunity to recognise their achievements,” said Caroline Jenner, CEO, JA Europe.

Global Entrepreneurship is a core focus area of FedEx charitable giving strategy, FedEx Cares. In 2016, the company committed to invest $200 million in 200 communities by the year 2020.

SureLight from UK Recognized as Best Client-Led Team with the Citi Foundation Client Focus Award 2018

SureLight, a student startup from UK, won the Citi Foundation Client Focus Award, supported by the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, at JA Europe 29th Company of the Year Competition.

The Citi Foundation Client Focus Award recognizes student enterprises that are client-led, and excel at creating value by listening to their clients to understand, anticipate and serve their evolving needs and circumstance.

SureLight’s strong focus on customer experience impressed the Citi Foundation Signature Award jury. SureLight is producing a smart brake light for bicycles. The student team, also a group of cyclists, wanted to improve security by using car's brake light technology and making it available for bicycles. Not only SureLight won the Citi Foundation Client Focus Award, but they were crowned as best European Company of the Year 2018.

"It was a wonderful experience. Being client focus is something that is very important for us. Having been through 32 prototypes enabled us to be where we are today, and we really couldn’t make all these changes without speaking to our customers. Our sales are in close contact with them, whether you sell the product or not, you can always get tips and feedback," shared Ben Ray, Managing Director of SureLight. 

Partnering for over three decades, the Citi Foundation and JA Europe collaborated in 19 European countries, involving over 51,000 students and 300 Citi business volunteers in 2017-2018, to develop young people’s entrepreneurial skills and work readiness. The partnership has been growing from year to year and greatly contributed to tackle youth unemployment and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial employees. Citi is committed to supporting young people to become career ready, and in February 2017 expanded their Pathways to Progress initiative globally to help 500,000 young people with $100 million over the next three years. 

“The JA Europe Company Programme is highly effective at starting young people on their entrepreneurial journeys, and for providing the important skills needed to have successful futures. This is all critical if we are to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 8 – decent work and economic growth, and whilst not everyone that reaches the European final will become an entrepreneur, they leave the programme with a much broader career potential. 
Congratulations to SureLight who strongly demonstrated what it means to put your client at the centre of your business. - ”Rachael Barber, Head of Community Development EMEA, Citi

Caroline Jenner, CEO for JA Europe, added: “For more than 30 years, our partnership with Citi and Citi Foundation has supported young people to understand what it takes to start and run their own business. Thanks to their global commitment to developing youth entrepreneurship through the JA Company Programme and the Entrepreneurial Skills PassTM we were able to empower 48,000 young people (15-18 years old) last school year!”

Extintus from Portugal winner of the AT&T Excellence in IT Award

Since 2013, JA Europe and AT&T have worked together to empower young people with entrepreneurship and employability that help students move into the workforce with a clear competitive advantage. During the academic year 2017-2018, more than 5,000 students from 8 countries participated in various activities including masterclasses, innovation camps, job-shadow days, and hackathons with the support of 300 volunteers.

2018 marked the third edition of the AT&T Excellence in IT Award, sponsored by AT&T, created to acknowledge student companies who demonstrated innovative use of ICT. Commenting on the winning team, Caroline Jenner, CEO, JA Europe said:

“The world is changing fast and businesses need to constantly adapt to the new norms dictated by technology and digital innovation in telecommunication. The AT&T Excellence in IT Award encourages and recognizes young people’s efforts to focus on digital transformation and explore the opportunities this evolution is bringing to them”.

This year’s winner, Portugal’s Extinctus Enterprise, demonstrated a specific social contribution, solving real world challenges using technology. It’s early detection system for forest fires uses sensor technology, wireless data capture and a control platform. This business showed material evidence of a credible partner ecosystem: a supply chain, coding, software, sustainability, and mesh networking technology.

Peter Daly, Vice President, Global Service Management AT&T, presented the award:

“There is so much talent out there. It is crucial we do our bit as businesses to help nurture the youth as they grow and flourish. Our AT&T Aspire initiative and this award does just this. It gives young people the training and mentoring they need to get—and keep—good jobs.”

Team Create Wins first Delta Air Lines Innovation Award 2018

Team Create from Israel has been named winner of the Delta Innovation Award 2018. 
The company produces Notify, a phone holder for cars that prevents receiving notifications while driving. 

Create won the Delta Air Lines award after demonstrating excellence in a number of core areas. The judges, led by Shane Spyak, Delta’s Staff Vice President, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India Sales, cited the team's ability to develop an innovative yet user-friendly product that promotes safer driving. The students designed and manufactured an in-car mobile phone holder that blocks distracting notifications being received, such as SMS messages, while enabling the use of navigation systems.

Shane Spyak said: “The Delta Innovation Award offers a great opportunity for us to inspire and be inspired by these young and brilliant minds. I was particularly impressed with the innovation demonstrated by Create, and the global potential of their business, which provides an innovative safety solution.”

Other judges included Shane Spyak’s Delta Air Lines colleagues Maggie Butler, Project Manager & Sales Development and Thomas Brandt, Country Sales Manager Germany Switzerland and Austria.

“It’s amazing, we’re very excited to have won the Delta Innovation Award. With our product Notify, we wanted to address this issue of texting while driving and increase safety. The support of companies like Delta Air Lines helps young people like us to believe in themselves and realize that they can make a change in the world and be recognized for their innovation,” shared Aya Haimovich, CEO of Create.

ManpowerGroup Presents Ready for Work Award at JA Europe Company of the Year Competition 2018

A ManpowerGroup (NYSE: MAN) jury including leaders from across Europe supported thousands of high school students at the JA Europe Company of the Year Competition in Belgrade, Serbia, to nurture its learnability and get them work ready. The judges awarded ManpowerGroup's Signature Ready to Work Award to Art of Joy (Kunsten a glede) of Norway. Art of Joy’s innovative business model to sell 100 percent organic, eco-friendly t-shirts designed by children battling cancer was built on self-reflection, action-based learning, and long-term skills development.


The winning team was awarded a year-long mentorship program led by ManpowerGroup’s Right Management career experts, who will work with the students to develop hard and soft skills, provide work experience and individual and team coaching to build their employability.

"When 65 percent of the jobs young people will do don’t exist yet, a blend of hard and soft skills combined with the ability to continually learn is the winning formula for students to get ready for work," said Stefano Scabbio, President of Northern Europe, Mediterranean & Eastern Europe for ManpowerGroup. "Congratulations to the deserving winner of this year’s award - Team Kunsten a glede from Norway. These future leaders and young entrepreneurs demonstrated agility, collaboration, perseverance and creativity – skills that will serve them well in this fast-changing world of work. We look forward to continuing our longstanding relationship with JA Europe to help hundreds of thousands of students upskill, nurture their learnability and become work ready, not just graduate ready.”

The awards ceremony marks the second of a three-year partnership between JA and ManpowerGroup spanning 39 countries in Europe. The Ready for Work award recognizes entrepreneurship and different aspects of work readiness each year. The award is part of JA Europe's flagship Company of the Year competition which encourages young people to develop business skills by setting up and running a mini company for a year. More than 340,000 students across Europe participate.

Read more about ManpowerGroup's partnership with JA here.

Rewarding Entrepreneurial Mindset Thanks to the JA Alumni Leadership Awards 2018 Supported by AXA

Ten outstanding personalities were selected by the JA Alumni Europe and AXA jury, recognizing their extraordinary entrepreneurial attitude. Students that have participated in entrepreneurship education programs such as the JA Company Program have higher ambitions for their future career choices (job or further education) than those that have not. They are more self-motivated in their efforts in the learning process, more likely to start their own business and more attractive to the job market. This is crucial to spur a more entrepreneurial mind-set in Europe. 

  • Dimitrios Konstantinou - Cyprus
  • Kristina Horsager - Denmark
  • Helin Kuldkepp - Estonia
  • Katharina Hartung - Germany
  • Aya Haimovich - Israel
  • Damir Babacic - Luxembourg
  • Nemanja Matic - Serbia
  • Carolina Schlegel - Spain
  • Ben Ray - UK
  • Luke Andrews - UK

By involving AXA business volunteers in JA programmes, the partnership provides students with the tools necessary to better understand the world around them, understand financial risks, build an entrepreneurial mind-set and make well informed financial decisions later on. 

Cesar Salazar, Global HR Project Manager, AXA Europe added: “AXA is proud to support the Alumni Leadership Award for the third year. Entrepreneurial skills are a vital asset for the next generation of leaders, and Junior Achievement ensures that students are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. This years winners embodied the AXA values and were an inspiration to us all. We encourage them to continue to be courageous in their ambition, foster creativity and teamwork in those around them, and continue to conduct themselves with a high level of integrity.” 

Sarah Rapp, President, JA Alumni Europe, added: “JA Alumni Europe is proud to award the most outstanding leaders of the JA Company of the Year Competition. This award is really special to us because it is given by JA Alumni for JA Alumni. Our mission is to provide former JA program participants with further experience and opportunities, encourage them to strengthen their passion for entrepreneurship and build international networks of like-minded people.” 

Caroline Jenner, CEO for JA Europe, added: “This competition is a team effort, but together with AXA we want to celebrate all the individuality and leadership that makes it all happen. Young people sometimes underestimate that having an entrepreneurial attitude can represent one of their best assets, not only when entering the workforce but in everyday life, too. AXA is fully committed to equipping young people with the practical training and skills they need to be prepared for today's economic challenges.” 

Meet the 2018 Jury

  • Zoran Petrović, Chairman of the Managing Board, Raiffeisen banka a.d. (CHAIR JUDGE)
  • Carina Bergquist Palm, Head of Branch Region, Nordea bank Sweden  (JURY VICE CHAIR)
  • Trevor Hoyle, SVP Operations Northern Europe, FedEx Express
  • Svetlana Dogotaru, General Director at Palplast
  • Emilios Kyriacou, Citi Country Officer Greece, Cyprus & Malta, Corporate Bank Head Greece
  • Mustafa Hilmi Çolakoğlu Assoc. Prof., Turkey
  • Benjamin Dhier, Co-Founder and Manager at Do.Be.Doo...
  • Enny van de Velden, Chairman of the Board and Chief Commercial Officer, CCV Group
  • Gregory Inglott, Head of Customer Value Management and Head of Retail Business Banking, HSBC Bank Malta
  • João Pedro Tavares, ACEGE President + Junior Achievement Portugal Chairman
  • Dr. Vladas Lašas, Entrepreneur, Carbon War Room Co-Founder, TED Patron, Lithuania