The international social startup competition the Hult Prize is underway at the University of Sydney to find young entrepreneurs with a passion to solve a single global problem. With this year’s focus is on the world refugee crisis, students from over 150 countries will participate for the chance to win US$1 million in prizes to take their ideas further.
The annual Hult Prize is part of the Clinton Global Initiative and first came to Australia last year. Since its conception in 2013, the Hult Prize has provided a platform for more than 50,000 entrepreneurs to come up with over 100,000 ideas. To date over 50 ventures have raised more than $10 million in funding to create impactful social enterprises or startups with a social mindset.
The University of Sydney is hosting the Hult Prize in Australia and has already chosen eight students from graduate and post-graduate stages to partake in a number of workshops to generate and grow their ideas. One team will be chosen to accelerate their idea into the regional finals, which will be held in one of five locations around the world.
This year the successful Australian startup will be flown to San Francisco to compete with other teams for a position in the grand finals. Those who win the grand finals will receive US$1 million in seed funding, as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community.
With the Hult Prize last year focused on crowded, urban spaces, this year’s focus on the refugee crisis asks that, rather than focusing on aid and charitable approaches to refugee migration, startups find innovative ways to restore pride, dignity and self-worth back into the community. Through the ideas generated by the competition, the Hult Prize aims to reach 10 million people impacted by war and economic depression by 2022.
“The prize is about creating something sustainable, which means something that creates profit, and understanding how we can use web technology to help existing systems. Not just aimed at improving people’s lives but doing it in a sustainable way,” said Mark Jeyaraj, Hult Prize campus director for the University of Sydney.
Other initiatives looking at the global refugee crisis include Techfugees Australia, a hackathon that brings together the refugee and tech community to find solutions to real world problems. Both Techfugees and the Hult Prize initiatives aim to assess and fix the challenges not only within the refugee community, but also look at the challenges they face entering outside communities.
The University of Sydney is currently hosting workshops and mentoring sessions to not only teach aspiring entrepreneurs about how to build a successful startup, but also inform them on the current issues faced by refugees.
Judging each team on their potential to represent Australia at the regionals in San Francisco is CEO of Freelancer, Matt Barrie, CEO of Foodladder, Kelly McJannett, CEO of Venturetec, Trey Zagante, senior recruiting lead for Uber, Lucas Partington, and head of mid-market sales for Google ANZ, Cyrus Asher, among others.
Image: Hult Prize 2016. Source: Supplied.