EIT RawMaterials and JA Europe announce recipient of 2019 Circular Economy Award

By June 26, 2019 No Comments

The EIT RawMaterials Circular Economy award was given yesterday to the Finnish start-up Cuitu.

Cuitu is a start-up created by students aged from 19 to 30 who have participated in the JA Start Up Programme, a year-long programme during which students gain real experience of the world of business: coming up with a concept for a business, creating and researching a business plan, taking responsibility and being accountable to their shareholders for the running of the company.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this start-up competition. We were very impressed by the other projects and are so happy that business people see the potential of our company”, said Vilma Piironen from Cuitu.

This year, more than 17,000 students from 500+ higher education institutions across Europe have participated in the JA Europe Start Up Programme. The students competed at the national level and the winners participated in the grand finale of the 2019 JA Europe Enterprise Challenge on 24 and 25 June, hosted by JA Norway. 15 teams from 14 countries gathered in Oslo to present their start-ups to an international jury composed of representatives of EIT RawMaterials and the EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology) community, participate in a stand exhibition and go through interviews with the jury members who assessed their value proposition (financial, social or cultural) as well as the start-up’s potential to grow.

“It struck us that a great majority of the start-ups who were present at the 2019 Enterprise Challenge focus on sustainability and the circular economy of raw materials. We were particularly impressed with Cuitu for their creativity, curiosity and high commitment to sustainable materials. Congratulations to the team for winning this year’s EIT RawMaterials Circular Economy Award!” said Christina Meskers, Senior manager Open Innovation at Umicore and Chair of the EIT RawMaterials jury.

JA Europe and EIT RawMaterials first collaborated in 2018 to equip 1,200 young people across Bulgaria and Romania with vital skills by blending entrepreneurship and STEM education and bringing innovation to the classroom with a focus on raw materials.

The European Union is committed to creating 10,000 new jobs in the European raw materials sector in the short term. JA Europe shares the interest of EIT RawMaterials to boost competitiveness, growth and attractiveness of the European industrial sectors via radical innovation and guided entrepreneurship.

EIT RawMaterials and JA Europe have demonstrated that the need to provide strong and meaningful educational experiences to our world’s youth is not only a shared vision, but one that can be brought to life when working in partnership. We are delighted to collaborate on such crucial issues for the European raw materials sector and for young Europeans across Europe,” said Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA Europe.


From September 2019, EIT RawMaterials will broaden the scope of the collaboration by working with students at the tertiary level and will deliver the JA Start Up Programme in Bulgaria and Finland as well as implement it in Hungary.

EIT RawMaterials Signature Award jury members:

  • Christina Meskers, Senior manager Open Innovation at Umicore
  • Luc Moens, Vice Chair of the EIT RawMaterials Executive Board
  • Mario Roccaro, EIT Food, Programme Manager Education


EIT RawMaterials Signature Award judging criteria:

Part 1: Content & Ideas

  1. CIRCULAR ECONOMY (20%): Projects that consider the whole value chain and life cycle of a product or service, such as conception, supply and/or manufacture as well as responsible consumption and/or disposal.
  2. BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE (20%): We are looking for projects that use design or creative thinking to develop smart solutions in terms of sustainability, especially those which consider resource efficiency or substitution.
  3. POTENTIAL TO TRANSFORM (20%): The start ups will be judged on how innovative their ideas are. Projects with an ambitious or creative concept will be recognised. Societal or environmental impact is especially valued.
  4. BUSINESS VIABILITY (30%): We will consider the market size and whether this project has any competitive advantages.


Part 2: Form & Quality of Presentation

  1. QUALITY OF PRESENTATION (10%): We are looking for dynamic, creative, engaging and effective presentations.


About JA Europe

JA Europe ( is Europe’s largest provider of education programmes for entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy, reaching 3.6 million students in 41 countries in 2017. JA works with the education and business communities as well as governments to provide young people from primary school to university with experiences that build the skills and competences they will need to succeed in a global economy. JA Europe is the European Regional Operating Centre for JA Worldwide®.

About EIT RawMaterials

EIT RawMaterials, initiated and funded by the EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology), a body of the European Union, is the largest consortium in the raw materials sector worldwide. Its vision is to develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe. Its mission is to enable sustainable competitiveness of the European minerals, metals and materials sector along the value chain by driving innovation, education and entrepreneurship.

For more please visit:




Sofia Meyers, Education Project Manager, EIT RawMaterials:

Sophie Norman, Head of Policy & Communication, JA Europe: