Hunt begins in campuses for India participation in Hult Prize 2017 award

It is time for Hult Prize 2017 and the hunt is on for the most innovative ‘change the world’ concept. The Hult Prize Foundation is a start-up accelerator for budding young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities. Named as one of the top five ideas changing the world by President Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine, the annual competition for the Hult Prize aims to create and launch the most compelling social business ideas—start-up enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people. Winners receive US $1 million in seed capital, as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community.

The Hult Prize came to India in 2016 as a National Program with over 50 campuses initiating the Hult Prize as an on campus event. The Hult Prize foundation partnered with Aravindam Foundation in India to create Hult Prize India dedicated to enhance participation from India and help generate more winners.

The Hult Prize 2017 is about creating scalable and sustainable startup enterprises to reawaken the potential of displaced people (refugees). This year has also been a water shed year for Indian campus participation. The Aravindam Foundation in India partnered with the Hult Prize foundation and rapidly built upon existing resources to take participation to over 50 campuses. Abhimanyu Abrol (IIT KGP), Ewelina Janus (Poland, Founder Director, Aravindam) and Dr.Lokesh Abrol (Doctor, Social Entrepreneur) together spearheaded the Hult Prize India with support from a nationwide team of volunteers.

The Hult prize
Founded in 2009 by Ahmad Ashkar and sponsored by Bertil Hult, Swedish entrepreneur and Education First founder, Hult Prize is the social game changer. Today, it has a massive over 650 universities representing more than 150 countries and spends over 2 million man-hours on solving the world’s most gripping issues. In the current year itself eight of the ‘Forbes Top 30, Under 30, Entrepreneurs Changing the World’ were individuals who, founded their companies as part of the Hult Prize annual accelerator.

Teams from India have been participating in the Hult Prize since 2011 as standalone applicants. In 2014, campus-level events were held in four campuses in India. In 2015, it grew to 11 campuses, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Delhi, IIT BHU, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta, IIM Indore, ISB Hyderabad, IMT Ghaziabad,Jadavpur University, BITS Pilani and Sri Ram College of Commerce.

Hult Prize is about social enterprise ideas and startups in a university environment. With 761 universities, a vibrant educational environment and a vast population below poverty line, India is a natural laboratory and fertile ground for Social enterprise, says Lokesh Abrol, Director, Hult Prize India. “The scale, the opportunity and the talent pool available are simply immense. We will not be surprised if Hult Prize in India becomes larger than the global parent in coming years,” he said.

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The Hult Prize is present in over 650 universities in 130 countries in the world and is growing by the year. It is rapidly becoming a community of motivated, inspired and passionate students around the world, united by a common idea of doing good in a sustainable and profitable way.

The prize is open to students from every campus in all countries of the world. The launch of a National Chapter depends upon the readiness of the ecosystem in the form of extent and quality of participation and availability of local sponsors and high calibre teams.

Process, selection
Action starts with recruitment of campus directors who are university students who apply online in June/July. Selections are done by telephonic or Skype interviews of shortlisted candidates. Those with demonstrable organisational skills are preferred.

Last year, the challenge was related to crowded urban places and how one can better connect people to goods and services, says Abrol. The objective was to double the income of one million people by 2020. Magic Bus from Earlham college, USA won it.

The Magic Bus founders – Iman Cooper, Sonia Kabra, Wyclife Omondi, and Leslie Ossete are from– USA, India, Nairobi, and Kenya. Not many people from poor communities had smartphones, so the team came up with the idea of an offline service that would use Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) gateway and SMS service to help people book their seats on in-city buses, know the time of arrival of the buses, fares, etc. They reduced the time spent in waiting for buses in Kenya, from several hours every week to minutes and enhanced productivity.

The prize money is US$ one million, which incidentally is the biggest ever prize money for any student award. One of the highlights of the Foundation is that former US President Bill Clinton is the Hult Prize Partner. He announces the challenge of the competition each year and hosts the Hult Prize Global Finals.

India focus
This year has seen a 400 percent increase in participation with over 50 top campuses taking part. After selection of campus directors, they are supported with planning, information, webinars, competition modules and mentoring. The Campus Directors spread the word, gather teams, organise seminars and discussions on the problem statement, lead fund raising, reach out to prospective judges of exceptional calibre and hold the campus event for teams that register on the Hult Prize India website.

Each campus needs to have at least ten competing teams with each team having 3 to 5 members. One team from each eligible campus advances to the National event. There is an additional avenue of application for teams that do not have a campus event or want to give it a second chance. the campus Directors can also use this avenue after their campus event has been completed. Online applications are scrutinised by a central panel of judges for shortlisting.


Published Date: Dec 12, 2016 01:35 pm | Updated Date: Dec 13, 2016 02:00 am

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