UTS Hult Prize contender aims to give power to the people
Changing the way energy is currently supplied in developing countries is the target of the first UTS student team to compete in the Hult Prize, the world's largest student competition for the creation of new social businesses.
In a process organised by students, the Hult Prize on-campus final at UTS this week has advanced the winning team to the regional finals in March, going head-to-head with more than 1,000 universities and colleges worldwide for the chance to win US$1 million.
The winning team (pictured below), including Tamim Rahimi (Law/Arts and Social Sciences), LuAnna Han (Law/Arts and Social Sciences), Michael Djunaidi (Business), and Dhruv Saggar (Law/Arts and Social Sciences), who all completed the Hatchery Ideate program this year, was among teams drawn from UTS's undergraduate and postgraduate programs, and across all faculties. They tested their grit in building a viable energy solution while honing their skills in design thinking, lean start-ups, prototyping and pitching.
They went before the judging panel following months of mentoring from industry partners such as Airbnb, EnergyLab, EY, Future Business Generation, Lendlease, MinterEllison, Nexus Notes and the UTS Hatchery.
"We always knew our generation was better connected, better informed and better resourced, but we never knew of how we could help millions of people live a better life," said winning team member Dhruv Saggar.
"The Hult Prize has given us a platform at UTS to innovate and revolutionise the way we think about servicing the disadvantaged. Through this platform, we now can catapult our ambitions and desires and create our own innovative and disruptive social enterprise."
The team pitched its idea to create a sustainable, scalable, fast-growing social enterprise that harnesses the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025.
Specifically, the team addressed the lack of access to reliable sources of energy in the developing world. The aim is to democratise the way energy is currently being supplied and used by driving action from multiple stakeholders, empowering them to do more and transforming the lives of the people who ultimately gain access to the resource.
The team's members will now move on to a local incubator over the summer where they will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning advice as they create prototypes and set up to launch their new social business. This local incubator is supported by industry partners including EnergyLab, Flirtey, Future Business Generation, the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship and Zookal.
Hult Prize Campus Director Lik Wong Yu said the UTS winning team has been fast-tracked to compete at the regional finals, bypassing the general application, which annually receives more than 20,000 applicants from more than 350 colleges and universities in over 150 countries.
Mr Yu is confident that his peers have as good as chance as anyone to go all the way with this year's Hult Prize, despite it being UTS's first year hosting the initiative.
"Since its inception in 2009, the Hult Prize has seen some remarkable talent emerge across the world, competing with fantastic ideas to solve the world's toughest challenges," he said.
"We have now joined the world's largest network of 'to be' social entrepreneurs, who take novel business ideas and apply them to the world's toughest social challenges.
"We are putting social entrepreneurship on the map here at UTS and we want our students to change the trajectory of the development issues that define whether we have a future or not. It is exciting to think that at the very least we are changing the mindset of UTS's students and in the best case we will actually change the world!"
This year the Hult Prize is focused on finding solutions for the millions of people around the world affected by energy issues.
The prize's CEO and founder Ahmad Ashkar attributes the success of the competition to the global youth revolution.
"We continue to be moved by the large number of students from around the world who are capitalising on the opportunity to develop business models that target those who are most in need. We wish every team the best of luck and thank UTS's Deputy Vice-Chancellor's Office of International and Advancement and UTS BUiLD for sponsoring this initiative."
The Hult Prize is a startup accelerator for social entrepreneurship that brings together the brightest college and university students from around the globe to solve the world’s most pressing issues. The annual initiative is the world’s largest student competition and crowd-sourcing platform for social good, and has been funded by the Hult family since its inception in 2009.
For any questions or expression of interests in becoming a partner and/or sponsor, please contact: LikWong.Yu@student.uts.edu.au