ROAD TO REGIONALS: HULT PRIZE AT FIU 2018 – 2019

By Luisana Zambrano, Campus Director, Hult Prize at FIU

Hult Prize is the biggest social entrepreneurship competition around the world. For the last 10 years, the Hult Prize Foundation has funded about 9 different companies, deployed more than $50M in seed capital and mobilized more than one million young people to rethink the future of business.

The Hult Prize process begins with the On-Campus competitions where teams are selected to represent their universities in any of the world regional competitions. The winning team of the regionals will then win a spot in the summer incubator program at the Castle in Ashridge, UK. The top six teams of the incubator will be selected to compete for the grand prize of $1M to fund their startups.

Hult Prize has been a part of FIU for the last five years. For the last three years FIU has been hosting the On-Campus competition with the support of StartUP FIU, a university-wide initiative to foster innovation and entrepreneurship to pursue opportunities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For Hult Prize at FIU 2018-2019, 19 teams registered to compete with 67 students from different majors from STEM to Business and Social Sciences.

“I had the opportunity to participate in last year’s Hult Prize at FIU On Campus competition and was able to represent FIU at the Boston Regionals 2018. For me it was a very enriching experience that helped me to grow as a student and future professional. I wanted more students to have the same opportunity of growing and thinking about the future through the Hult Prize. This is the reason why I took the challenge of becoming Campus Director for Hult Prize @FIU for 2018-2019” says Luisana Zambrano, Campus Director for Hult Prize at FIU for 2018-2019.

During the Fall 2018 semester the Hult Prize at FIU team held design thinking sessions, problem identification process, solution ideations based on the global challenge, storytelling and pitching practice workshops, as well as mentor hours and one-on-one sessions for the teams to prepare for the On-Campus competition held on December 7, 2018 at StartUP FIU. The Hult Prize at FIU team also focused on spreading the word about social entrepreneurship by collaborating with StartUP FIU in hosting two information panels with local social entrepreneurs and social impact enthusiasts:  Launching a Business for Social Good, with the FIU Social Media Association and Global Entrepreneurship Week event, Doing Well by Doing Good: A Discussion About Social Entrepreneurship.

“I’ve been involved in the Hult Competition for five years. When it started it was a project in the FIU Honors College. Today through StartUP FIU it is university wide and we have made so much progress under Luisana Zambrano’s leadership.” Director of StartUP FIU, Bob Hacker.

Vikaas, the winning team of the Hult Prize at FIU On Campus Competition, led by three undergraduate students Yashaswi Tapadia, Economics major, Arquimides Perez-Leyva, Computer Science major and Paula Perez a Mechanical Engineering major, will represent FIU at one of the Regional Finals next Spring 2019. StartUP FIU will work hand in hand with the team to support their preparation for Regionals next semester in hopes of bringing home a win.

Vikaas revolutionizes the agriculture industry in India through its scientific practices, while also empowering the rural communities it serves by providing a stable income to otherwise financially insecure farmers.