Last April, three Industrial Engineering students competed in the Hult Prize Regionals at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. Globally recognized as the “Nobel Prize for students,” the Hult Prize is a distinguished competition that caters to aspiring social entrepreneurs from hundreds of universities worldwide.
As the world’s largest student competition and crowdsourcing platform for social entrepreneurship, the contest aims to develop innovative ideas that can be scaled to improve the lives of millions, with the winning team grabbing a million-dollar seed fund. The LaSallian looks into the international contest from the students’ perspectives.
The University began hosting Hult Prize competitions inside last 2015.
Carl Kenneth Jaronay, Campus Director of Hult Prize at the University, shares that during its inaugural year, DLSU was one of the three Philippine universities from over 150 universities across the world that the Hult Prize Foundation granted the opportunity to organize in-campus activities. Jaronay annually spearheads the selection process of the University-wide competition, in partnership with the Lasallian Social Enterprise for Economic Development (LSEED).
The University-wide competition was held last December 2017, when ten pre-selected teams pitched their respective social enterprise ideas in front of panelists from the social enterprise sector. Each team was given 10 minutes to pitch their ideas in order to qualify for the Hult Prize Regional Finals, which happened in 15 cities across the world.
Electric Steps, comprised of Industrial Engineering students, built an idea that aims to resolve the growing problem of over-congestion on the country’s correctional facilities, particularly in Bilibid Prison.
Aldous Aman, Felix Cordova, and Christopher Veloso developed a solution that involves the installation of a large system mainly comprised of electricity generating bikes for the inmates, which will act as an alternative avenue for their own development, as well as to incur savings to the correctional facilities. This pedaling technology aims to tackle the unproductiveness of the inmates due to the country’s hot climate, and aims to ventilate the respective facilities.
The activities of Hult Prize are divided into six categories that aim to provide a direction to the activities and programs that are included in the annual Hult Prize. From the program’s commencement up until the declaration of winners, these six respective categories ensure that activities are planned and executed smoothly, participants are equipped with knowledge and skills training, and victors are well-equipped to scale their winning social enterprise.
Learning opportunities through seminars, workshops, speakers, dedicated mentorship, and coaching are organized. As the competitors are chosen through an in-person screening and selection process led by hundreds of judges, they compete against fellow teams, refining their pitches, improving and iterating on their business models.
The best teams that emerge from rigorous competition rounds are invited to one of the Hult Prize’s leading business accelerators, as well as live-work programs that leverage leading business, academic, and legal experts who help transform these ideas into investment-ready startups with management teams, business plans, and prototypes.
Through a one-of-a-kind network of mentors and experts, the Hult Prize introduces startups to potential customers and partners who help grow the company’s core business activities, open new markets, and develop the right advisory network to succeed.
In regard to the main competition, the DLSU team had six minutes to present, and four minutes for the judges’ question and answer portion, yielding a total of 10 minutes for the team to give the best possible version of their idea during the pitch proper at the event.
As there were a total of 45 teams in the competition, the pitches were divided into two shifts—morning and afternoon. If a team were to be assigned to a time slot for pitching in the morning, they would act as peer panel in the afternoon. The peer panel constituted of venues where teams would watch pitches from teams in an assigned room and provide feedback afterwards so as to give the judges more perspective to aid their decision.
Aman shares his insights in an engineering perspective. “We learned that there are many solutions for any problem just around the corner. It is up to us to find out what these solutions are and to turn them into functional systems for the generations to come,” he asserts. Veloso, on the other hand, conveys that the whole competition was a great experience, having to meet different people with unique ideas around the globe. “I was impressed by how the diversity of the teams can cause the creation of such practical yet effective ideas that have not [yet] been thought of, or taken into consideration. Overall, the Hult Prize was an amazing experience and hopefully more of DLSU’s students would participate in this to let their creative ideas be known.”
“We were well aware that most of the competitors had credentials and achievements that pretty much dwarf ours. Despite this, we were grateful for having the privilege of sharing a platform with these experts. [Until] this day, the experience remains so surreal to me, I can’t believe I shared a room with some of the best minds I’ve ever had the chance of listening to. We are forever grateful,” Cordova attests.
At the end of the competition, the DLSU team wasn’t able to win the crown, but they finished with an idea that can soon change the world, one pedal at a time.
Now on its third year, Hult Prize at DLSU continues to provide opportunities for budding Lasallian social entrepreneurs to provide market-driven solutions to the world’s biggest problems. Along with its reputable slate of internal and corporate partners, Hult Prize at DLSU continues to imagine a better world for millions of people through social good and positive impact through social entrepreneurship.