The JA Company Program thrived this year as our schools gradually began transitioning to in-person business meetings and special events. We had an intense competition and special events roster, with our home-grown competitions and events running parallel to regional, state-level, and international competitions. We introduced new competitions, such as the SAP Tech Innovation Challenge to build on our MS Tech Innovation Challenge at the start of the year. Additionally, we partnered with the Houston Tech Rodeo and chaired the Born Global Summit's Student Showcase alongside HCC and the US Small Business Administration and, lastly, joined forces with J.Brielle Handmade Goods for our first Biz Kids Trade Show aimed at all kidpreneurs in our community.
We had 21 competitions and specialized trainings this school year and hope to expand this with our first-ever Sustainability Track in 2022- 2023. this year we won or placed in several prestigious competitions – from the UH/Bauer/Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship Think Tank competition to the Texas A&M Ideas Challenge, to the TiE University Global Hackathon to the University of St. Thomas/HCC Pitch Festival. We also made it to the National Student Leadership Summit, where two of our JA companies are ranked in the top 15 in North America and were featured in many CNBC-JA USA national summits, local business podcasts, and news segments.
Student cohorts grew to 54 this year, representing a YOY increase of 46%, with final student numbers rising to over 1,500 for the first time in the program's history. The JA Company Program will focus on incubation next year and stabilize existing student cohorts. We also look toward promoting our companies alongside our strategic pillars of Innovation, Technology, and Sustainability. We ended the year successfully by hosting our first-ever in-person Banquet presented by EY in three years. It was joyful to see all our Board members, sponsors, partners, educators, mentors, and student leaders at the Houston Baptist University as they celebrated entrepreneurship.