Europe's best business idea comes from a classroom in Puchheim

Ski thieves snookered: Secondary school team from Puchheim near Munich wins the European Finals of the student competition business@school.

Three finalist

Not only do the students of Puchheim's secondary school have the best business savvy in Germany, they also won the business@school 2008 European Finals. For ten years now business@school has rewarded the best business ideas from the classroom. And in this anniversary year, it was four students from the secondary school in Puchheim near Munich who came up with the winning business plan for Ski Secure-an anti-theft device for skis. The avid winter sports fans from Puchheim, Moritz Wolf (19), Frank Wildenhain (18), Robert Richter (18), and Dominik Prestele (18) unearthed the fact that 10,000 pairs of skis are stolen in Germany every year. Their combination lock provides the best possible protection against theft and is integrated into the binding so that even forgetful skiers profit from the device. It was this argument that ultimately convinced the reknowned business jurors at the European Finals on the evening of 16 June in Munich. What did the student's win? Even more work during a two-week, paid internship with the initiator of business@school-the consulting firm BCG.

Student groups from Bad Nauheim (Hessen) and Hamburg are delighted with second and third place


The initiators of business@school want to kindle creativity and entrepreneurial spirit among the young. And, considering the 1,900 students from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy participating in the business@school project, they have certainly succeeded. These young people between the ages of 15 and 19 have taken a closer look at business for a period of ten months, examining both small and large companies in detail, and have come up with 400 business ideas.

Alongside the business-savvy students from Bavaria, teams from Bad Nauheim (Hessen) and Hamburg also impressed the panel of judges at the European Finals, securing second and third place. Students of the St. Lioba Schule in Bad Nauheim developed the Intelligent Song Finder for car radios, which automatically switches to the station currently playing one of the driver's favorite songs. And the Dog Secure System invented by participants from the Christianeum in Hamburg promises more safety in cars for dogs. They want to manufacture and sell a seat belt for our four-legged friends.

The prizes won by the top three student teams were indeed attractive. Ford-Werke invited the students from Hamburg to visit the Ford test track in Belgium, including an overnight stay. The team from Bad Nauheim were invited to take a look behind the scenes at Deutsche Lufthansa AG. And to top it all off, BCG is organizing a job application seminar—travel to be sponsored by the Deutsche Bahn.

"Select Landmark 2008" in the "Land of Ideas"

Land of Ideas

"Business@school was launched in 1998 to build a bridge between the business world and schools," explains BCG's Senior Partner and Managing Director, Dr. Dieter Heuskel. What started life as the initiative of one firm is now supported by more than 20 different companies whose employees volunteer to help the student teams over the ten-month project period. More than eighty students will participate in the coming school year beginning in August 2008—including, for the first time, secondary schools in Norway.

The commitment of the companies involved was one of the reasons why business@school was awarded the title "Select Landmark 2008" in the "365 Landmarks in the Land of Ideas" contest. This contest has been held for three years now by the landmark initiative "Germany-Land of Ideas" in cooperation with the Deutsche Bank; the patron being the German President Horst Köhler.

Guests from Singapore

The European Finals also welcomed 40 girl students from Singapore who are currently on a tour of Germany. In a discussion with the judges, they took the opportunity to report on how business@school is doing in Asia and what they think of the German school system. It got a thumbs up: "No school uniforms, nice sightseeing.

Business ideas from business@school

In the regional competitions in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland eleven student teams qualified to take part in the business@school 2008 Finals.

  • Baden-Württemberg, Goethe Gymnasium Gaggenau:
    The snail fence "Zisch" helps gardeners deal with those pesky snails
  • Baden-Württemberg, Auguste-Pattberg-Gymnasium Mosbach:
    The "Forget-me-not" alarm sounds if you leave the house key in the door.
  • Bayern, Gymnasium Puchheim:
    "Ski Secure" takes on ski thieves and, being integrated into the binding, cannot be left behind.
  • Berlin, Andreas Gymnasium Berlin:
    A "fragrant" business idea: "Odorrings"—earrings that smell good.
  • Hamburg, Christianeum Hamburg:
    The Dog Secure System—a seat belt for our four-legged friends—promises more safety in cars for dogs.
  • Hessen, St. Lioba Schule Bad Nauheim:
    Intelligent Song Finder for car radios automatically switches to the station currently playing one of the driver's favorite songs.
  • Hessen, Internatsschule Schloss Hansenberg Geisenheim:
    Of interest to more than just students, Lochfix punches holes and staples documents together simultaneously.
  • Niedersachsen, Kaiser-Wilhelm- und Ratsgymnasium Hannover:
    "Trevisor"—a mixture between a safe and a display case—both displays and protects collectors' treasures.
  • Nordrhein-Westfalen, St. Ursula Gymnasium Aachen:
    Safer Drinking is the fast way to test if a drink has been spiked and it's small enough to fit into your handbag: "BOBA—Black Out Blocker Accessory."
  • Nordrhein-Westfalen, Gymnasium Rodenkirchen:
    The illuminated breakdown triangle "Lumeck" guarantees more safety on the road.
  • Switzerland, Inter Community School Zurich (ICSZ):
    The board game "Puzzled" shows that Switzerland has more to offer than just Heidi and Swiss cheese.