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Start-ups for under-18s: From idea to reality
Are you a schoolpupil or apprentice with an exciting business idea and want to start your own business? There is useful information for parents and teachers here too. We provide an overview of contact partners, competitions, companies run by schoolpupils and the legal rules.
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How do young people become entrepreneurs? If you are in school developing bright ideas and need input or support, or want to participate in competitions, you are in the right place.
Who provides information and advice?
The Startercenter NRW of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Chambers of Crafts and business development agencies across North Rhine-Westphalia can help you with any questions regarding your start-up project. If you require an individual consultation on business questions and legal procedures, of if you require general information on starting a business, then experienced start-up consultants are on hand to help you. You will also have access to information material. The Startercenter NRW also hold events and workshops which can help you prepare for launching your start-up. You can find further information on the Startercenter NRW website. There you will find an overview map with locations and contacts.
Dr. Nikolaus Paffenholz
My three practical tips for your launch: go online and research what’s available from one of the Startercenter NRW in your region – i.e. the IHK (Chamber of Industry and Commerce), HWK (Chamber of Crafts) or local business development organisation. Visit one of the ‘Business start-up information afternoons’ they organise. Access Gründungswerkstatt NRW, a start-up platform that supports you with planning and putting your idea into practice. It’s digital, personal, free, safe and reliable.
© Image: Hans-Juergen Bauer
Have you heard of Startup Teens (website in German)? If you are aged between 14 and 19 and want to (further) develop or launch a business idea, you will also have access to support here too. Mentors will assist you on the path to having your own business. Alongside its free mentor programme, Start-up Teens also offers a YouTube channel with videos on the topic of start-ups and programming. With live events and hands-on activities, you can get tips for ideas, network with like-minded people and meet business role models in every region – even outside large cities.
“If young people want to solve problems and think they have the required staying power and ambition then I would be delighted to help them where I can!”
“Any idea and business model is only good when it is turned into reality and solves a problem of a target group. Do not let your age deter you. Every serious market player will take you seriously if you can bring added value, no matter how old you are.”
IW JUNIOR gGmbH will help you get the skills you need for the world of work. With Project Junior, you can launch a school start-up and learn how to think and act like a businessperson.
Dr. Kerstin Vorberg
Competitions for schoolpupils
Do you want to rise to the challenge and test your ideas in competition against other entrepreneurs? You can find some competitions below.
- The biggest simulation for school start-ups is the German School Start-up Prize (in German). Along with practical experience, there are exciting, educational prizes to be won every year.
- JUNIOR competitions (website in German) are held at the local, national and European level. Launch your start-up in school and learn about what it is like to run a business.
- The Startup Teens Business Plan Competition (website in German) for schoolpupils sees participants pitch before an expert panel to compete for the winning prize; they also receive sound feedback and access to the Startup Teens Network.
- With its educational initiative business@school, the consultancy firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has set itself the goal of giving schoolpupils practical experience of business themes. The first task involves analysing a small business and a large business. Other tasks in the project include developing a business idea and creating a business plan; the best ideas are awarded prizes by an expert panel. Pupils are supported by their teachers and also by supervisors from BCG and more than 20 partner companies such as NRW.BANK.
- The Changes Award (website in German) highlights the issue on sustainability. Personal coaches help create business plans which take aspects of mega trends such as demographics or digitalisation into account.
- Jugend gründet (German for "Young people start up", website in German) is a national competition and free learning platform in Germany which places just as much emphasis on sustainability as it does on innovation. Participating schoolpupils and apprentices develop innovative business ideas with a business plan and run through a business situation in a simulation. There are many benefits of taking part: along with the chance to win prizes such as trips to Silicon Valley and learn about business, schoolpupils in North Rhine-Westphalia have the chance to obtain a special academic achievement for Abitur by participating. “Jugend gründet” was created and is run by the Steinbeis Innovation Centre at the Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences and has been funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research since 2003.
- The programme Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, website in German) trains teachers to teach schoolpupils about business issues to help them think beyond life in the classroom. In a simulation, teachers and pupils simulate launching a start-up and, if they become federal state champions, can participate in the national competition.
The family court procedure
Are you interested in launching a start-up? Maybe you have an idea for a start-up, but are not yet old enough? Then you are in the right place. In the following document, we provide an overview of the legal regulations and how a family court procedure works. The best course of action is to visit your nearest Startercenter NRW for a consultation.
Special academic achievement for Abitur
Dear future Abitur students,
did you know that you can make use of your passion for enterprise in your Abitur studies? The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia offers you the opportunity to obtain a special academic achievement as an examination component.
You can find further information here on the Ministry of Schools website (in German).
Useful information for teachers
The “Business and School” web portal (in German) helps teachers prepare lessons related to economics and gives them the opportunity to access sound information on current events and the background to them. The following overview provides information on many other exciting initiatives in North Rhine-Westphalia and contact details of all representatives.
Projects in your region
Trade Juniors (website in German) also welcome teacher requests and are happy to visit schools to teach about their experience in topics such as company takeovers.
With the Getting Entrepreneurial Spirit into our Schools initiative, the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy wants to inspire schoolpupils to think and act in a business manner. The portal helps teachers prepare lessons and supports them in the teaching of economic issues.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, pupils are primarily taught about economic issues in the subjects Economics, Economics & Politics (Sec. I) and Social Sciences (Sec. II). The Ministry for Schools and Training provides information on external services and regular competitions via the Quality and Support Agency - State Institute for Schools (QUA-Lis, in German). You can also review current timetables here.