JA EUROPE ENTERPRISE
CHALLENGE 2020
MICROSOFT PRESS RELEASE

Hosted by JA Greece

WHISP from Bulgaria Wins Microsoft JA Tech for the Future Award 2020

Athens, 26 June 2020

This year’s JA Europe Enterprise Challenge featured a brand new Microsoft JA Tech for the Future Award 2020 which went to Bulgarian JA Start Up company WHISP – a wellness and health information system provider. The company provides an online platform helping expats get integrated into foreign healthcare systems by assisting them to overcome language barriers with a simple navigation guide and a do-it-yourself platform that accelerates and facilitates the documentation processes.

The student team from Bulgaria founded a JA start-up company in the school year 2019-2020 and won the competitive Award recognising strong gender diversity in terms of team members and demonstrating the best forward-looking technology driven concept, with strong business potential and sustainability, as well as viability and scalability.

Speaking on behalf of the Jury, Jeff Bullwinkel, Board member of JA Europe, said that:

“We are delighted that the Microsoft JA Tech for the Future Award will encourage students in the JA Start-Up programme to accomplish even more through the use of technology and by embracing strong inclusivity and diversity in business. We believe it is a winning formula for future entrepreneurs and business leaders.” He added that “putting these two elements at the heart of their business model made WHISP the most successful contender for the Award”.

The winner will receive a cash prize and will be offered 1:1 mentoring and business coaching. Its members will also have the opportunity to meet and engage with Microsoft senior leadership and attend selected Microsoft events.

“I am delighted to see this new form of collaboration between Microsoft and JA Europe to empower young Europeans on their entrepreneurial path. The focus on gender balance and encouraging female digital entrepreneurship is key” said Salvatore Nigro CEO of JA Europe. Adam Warby Chairman of JA Europe added: “We are grateful to Microsoft for guiding our young entrepreneurs through the potential offered by technology and elicit their imagination of tomorrow’s business environment.”

After winning their respective national competitions of the one year-long JA Start-Up Programme, 18 teams from 17 countries took part in the European virtual competition by submitting a Start-Up pitch deck, a video commercial and participating in live jury interviews.

JA Europe Enterprise Challenge is a competition for Europe’s best student start-ups in the age group 18 to 30. This year the entire competition was organised in a virtual format thanks to the collaboration between JA Europe and Avanade, the leading digital innovator on the Microsoft ecosystem.

Microsoft Signature Award jury members:
  • Jeff Bullwinkel, Microsoft Europe Associate General Counsel and Regional Director of Corporate, Legal & External Affairs
  • Sylvie J. Laffarge, Microsoft Director, Philanthropies Europe
  • Kate Margaret Barnes, Microsoft Manager Strategic Partnerships, Philanthropies
Microsoft JA Tech for the Future Award judging criteria:
Technology Driven Innovation (40%):

Has the company demonstrated innovative use of ICT (mobile technology, Collaboration Tools, Cloud based technology, Internet of Things or Internet of Everything) in their product or services? Is their product innovative and creative?

Business Potential and Sustainability (30%):

The vision and goals for the development of the business over the next years. Demonstrate that the solution represents sufficient business potential to justify the investment efforts and the risks to be taken. Show concrete steps have been taken to becoming a real and sustainable business.

Viable & Scalable Business (30%):

The business idea is realistic and practical. Fulfils a need / recognises a market gap. Creates a new market.

About JA Europe

Junior Achievement (JA) Europe is the largest non-profit in Europe dedicated to preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship. JA Europe is a member of JA Worldwide® which has delivered hands on, experiential learning in entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy for 100 years. JA creates pathways for employability, job creation and financial success.
Last school year, the JA network in Europe reached more than 4 million young people across 40 countries with the support of 140,000 business volunteers and 130,000 teachers/educators.

About Microsoft

Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

JA Europe press contact:

Minna Melleri (minna@jaeurope.org)