Teams “Plastic Worms” and “Toys for Dogs” win the 2018 Ambassador’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (December 17, 2018)

Ambassador Pence with the AEC winners of the 16-18 age category (© State Dept.)

The U.S. Embassy’s 6th annual Ambassador’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (AEC) finals took place in Helsinki December 13 – 14, 2018. The AEC is a nationwide program in which middle and high school students form teams to pitch original entrepreneurial concepts in English. The U.S. Embassy invited 16 teams (46 students and 12 mentors) from around Finland to the finals after participating in semifinals in Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Lappeenranta, Oulu, Tampere, Turku, and Vaasa. In Helsinki, the students participated in workshops at the U.S. Embassy and Microsoft Flux before the finals on Friday, December 14.

Ambassador Pence with the AEC winners of the 13-15 age category
Ambassador Pence with the AEC winners of the 13-15 age category (© State Dept.)

Team “Plastic Worms” from Merikarvian lukio won the 16-18 age category, with their use of worms to reduce plastic waste, and will travel to the United States on an entrepreneurship exchange program in 2019.

Team “Toys for Dogs” from Kajaanin lyseo won the 13-15 age category for their sustainably produced dog toys.

Judges included:
• Ambassador Robert Pence, U.S. Ambassador to Finland
• Sonja Lahtinen, PhD candidate, University of Tampere, and corporate social responsibility expert
• Matias Mäkitalo, former AEC winner and co-founder of Treamer
• Gerhard Molin, Design Strategist, Polkuni
• Juha-Matti Santala, Developer, Futurice
• Ethan Tabor, Deputy Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy
• Samuli Taskila, CEO, Entis