Students from the University of Sydney (USyd), the University of NSW (UNSW), and Griffith University are preparing to pitch on the world stage after taking part in the Hult Prize campus competitions held last December.
The global competition, which has students develop solutions related to a contemporary social challenge issued by former President Bill Clinton, tasked competitors with developing and pitching ideas relating to the global refugee crisis.
The objective, labelled Reawakening Human Potential in Refugees, aims to help build sustainable, scalable social enterprises that restore refugee rights by 2022.
Four teams from UNSW and five from USyd will be travelling to the regional finals around the world in March as they look to make it through to the final international pitching event later this year.
A team each from the two universities will be travelling to San Francisco, Boston, Dubai, and London, while the additional USyd team will pitch at the Shanghai regional event. A team from Griffith University will be pitching in London.
The end goal, of course, is to win the US$1,000,000 seed funding prize to help bring their social enterprises to life.
The ideas pitched at the campus finals ranged from a service focused on advocating for the hiring of refugees in retail stores and professional firms, winning first place at the USyd event, to a group looking into ways to unveil the hardships of the refugee experience through creative and technological methods, coming in second.
The third place team at USyd focused on employing refugees in aged care facilities to aid Australia’s shortage of aged care workers.
These teams, and the three winners at UNSW, won a place in a summer accelerator run by Venturetec.
They will also be guided through Google Sprint by the USYD Business School, which will provide a step-by-step guide on how to launch a business, as well as desks at the Nous House coworking space.
The Hult Prize is just one initiative looking to grow the startup scene at Australian universities.
UNSW alone last year launched a number of other programs and initiatives, including the Innovation Dojo, Society of Medical Innovation, and Startup Launch. Once branded the ‘Startup Games’, Startup Launch saw the emergence of new businesses such as KeyHub.
With the startup sector finding it difficult to attract top talent, the University of Sydney will in April be holding a Startup Careers Fair to encourage students to learn more about the startup sector and potential career opportunities.