University to host second annual Hult Prize @ FIU

Nicole Stone/Assistant News Director


Widely regarded as “the Nobel Peace Prize” for students, the Hult Prize seeks to encourage change by empowering undergraduate students to consider the ailments facing our society today and propose a solution in the form of a business model.

$1 million dollars is awarded annually to bring one student team’s vision to life and for a second year, the University is providing its students with a platform to pitch their plans for progress.

The competition tackles a new issue every year. Jamie Adelson, senior journalism major and FIU Campus Director for the Hult Prize said in an email to Student Media that each topic is announced by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Last year, students from universities across the world competed to address the refugee crisis. A team from Rutgers won with their business proposal, “Roshni Rides,” that provides accessible transportation for displaced refugees in South Asia.

This year, students are challenged to build enterprises revolving around sustainable and innovative solutions for harnessing energy to change lives.

“They [The Hult Prize] provide six dimensions that energy affects: connectivity, agriculture, education, water, mobility and health,”  Adelson said. “Teams are challenged to find and develop energy-powered innovations that can impact the lives of millions through any of the six dimensions.”

The challenges for the Hult Prize, according to Adelson, are determined based on the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development goals.

“This year’s challenge deals with goals seven, eight and nine. Seven [is] affordable and clean energy, eight [is] decent work and economic growth, and nine [is] industry, innovation and infrastructure,” she said.

Students across all majors and disciplines are invited to compete, Adelson said, and while students must compete in teams of three to four members, not all of the applicants have created their teams yet.

“We have people interested in competing that aren’t teamed up yet,” she said. “We hold workshops and Think Tank sessions every Tuesday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Friday from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. at StartUP FIU (Management and Advanced Research Center 3rd Floor) where students can learn more about the competition, brainstorm solutions and also network to create teams.”

The deadline to apply is Nov. 15. Teams can register at

Last year at FIU, a team called WeWomen was selected from nine others as the winners and were flown to the Boston Regionals.

“They were able to bring down the price of sanitary pads for refugee women by 500 percent. They actually competed in the same regionals as “Roshi Rides,” the team from Rutgers University that won the whole competition,” Adelson said.

Students are still formulating business plans, so Adelson was unable to say what students have proposed so far. The judges panel is also still being decided.

The winning team from FIU this year will once again be flown to the Boston Regional for a chance to advance to the Global Accelerator phase, which is held at the Hult Castle. After this, global finalists have an opportunity to with the first place $1 million dollar prize at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

On Dec. 15, the on-campus competition will be held at the MARC building. Teams are given five minutes to explain their entire concept, the problem they’re targeting, their solution and their business plan for the $1 million dollar prize, according to Adelson.

Business plans, in addition, must be for-profit.

There’s debate about nonprofit versus for-profit social enterprises, and the pros and cons of both; but what Hult is focused on is ensuring students create impactful business that can sustain themselves,” Adelson said. “As a non-business major, the way that I interpreted Hult’s mission of intersection of purpose and profit is this: you don’t have to choose between making money and making a difference. You can do both, and the successful businesses that have flourished through the Hult Prize are proof.”

FIU’s mission to be “Worlds Ahead,” according to Adelson, is further perpetuated by its participation in the campus-level Hult competition as students are actively engaged in innovation, collaboration, as well as with their local and global community.

“The competition challenges students to think creatively and work collectively to solve a global, pressing issue that impacts millions. What better way to represent FIU at a global level than by competing in a competition that aligns with our values, for the chance to win $1 million?” she said.

Adelson believes that winning would only be appropriate considering the University’s mission.

“Hundreds of universities and thousands of students compete in this competition. Florida International University winning an international competition would be iconic. I mean, it’s in the name,” she said.

On Tuesday, Nov.14, Hult Prize @ FIU will be hosting a workshop where students can continue developing their vision at StartUP FIU, located on the MARC 3rd floor. The workshop, “Quantifying the Problem You Want to Solve,” will have two sessions: one from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and the other from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.


Featured image shows WeWomen team from 2016, courtesy of Ivan Santiago.

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