American Entrepreneurial Challenge

Ambassador’s Entrepreneurial Challenge is now the American Entrepreneurial Challenge!

U.S. Embassy Helsinki’s flagship entrepreneurial program is back! With a new name  – American Entrepreneurial Challenge (AEC) – the program will provide students with a unique opportunity to strengthen their entrepreneurial and English skills. In 2021, the AEC will be organized during the spring semester, starting on January 18, 2021. The semi-finals will be virtual this time around, providing more opportunities for students across Finland to participate!

During the AEC, students will come up with a new business idea, create a business plan, and pitch their idea to a panel of judges. Participants will be provided with opportunities to improve their pitching skills and learn from mentors throughout the competition.

How does it work?

Teams of 2 – 4 students join together to create a business plan or a non-profit service that demonstrates the essential skills for bringing an idea to life: entrepreneurial skills, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, language ability, and presentation. Each team comes up with a business plan and presents a recorded pitch that is maximum 3-minutes long.  Each team needs to have at least one adult mentor – for example their teacher or a local entrepreneur. The AEC is conducted in English only.

In spring 2021, there will be two categories for entries, one for primary school students, classes 7 – 9, and another for vocational school and upper secondary school students. The strict age limits have been lifted. See below for special instructions for both categories!

Timeline

We welcome submissions starting on January 15, 2021. The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2021, at 23.59 (Helsinki time).

The semi-finals will be organized in March – April 2021, exact dates will be announced at a later time. Teams proceeding to the semi-finals will be notified by March 15, 2021.  The finals will be organized in May.

Submissions

  • Registration (submission of entries) will start January 15, 2021, and the deadline for applications is Monday, March 1, 2021 at 23.59 (Helsinki time)
  • Entries will be submitted through a form (link below). The following information is required:
    • Name of the team
    • School/s of the team members
    • First and last name of each team member
    • Phone number and email address, through which the team can be reached: make sure to include an email address that is both active and regularly monitored!
    • Name and contact info of an adult mentor of the team (for example a teacher)
    • Short, written description of the idea
    • YouTube –link to the pre-recorded pitch
  • A pre-recorded video pitch will be required in both categories. The minimum length of the video is 30 seconds, and the maximum length of the video is 3 minutes. The video should include an introduction of all the team members. The format for the rest of the video is up to the students to decide. Unless there is a critical need to use an external assistant (for example when providing a demo of a product), only the team members should participate/speak in the video. The video needs to be uploaded to YouTube and the link provided should be a link to hidden content. Kindly make sure that your link provided provides access to the video. The pitch and video should be in English.

Primary school classes 7 – 9

  • Each team must have an adult mentor
  • One entry per team  – see instructions above
  • No strict age limits (younger/ class 10 students may participate)
  • No limitations for the topic or theme of the business idea: the only requirement is that your business idea must be new in some way!
  • One winner and two runners-up will be selected: awards will include financial support for the development of the business idea and mentoring

Upper secondary level (vocational schools, upper secondary schools)

  • Students of 16 – 19 years old
  • One entry per team – see instruction above
  • One winner and two runners-up will be awarded with financial support for the development of their business idea, mentoring, and a Summer Camp in Finland, with a heavy U.S. entrepreneurial focus
  • The topic of the business idea needs to contribute to, provide solutions for, or address one or more of the following:
    • Arctic
    • Games and gamifying
    • Disinformation and/or media literacy
    • Circular economy and sustainability
    • Human rights
    • Inclusion and diversity
    • Strengthening Entrepreneurship

Submit your entry using the link below:
https://fi.usembassy.gov/education-culture/aec/aec-application-form/

Contact details

Any questions? Feel free to send us a message at USHelsinkiExchanges@state.gov, and we will get back to you soon!