SBM Students Still have their Eyes on the Hult Prize
On 9th and 10th March 2018 teams Natura4 and Rainbow from the School of Business and Management competed at the Hult Prize regionals in London and San Francisco respectively. Both teams were competing for a place in the next round of the Hult Prize competition to have the opportunity of go further, then ultimately to the finals with the chance of winning the coveted $1 Million Prize money to set up and implement their social enterprise idea.
Team Natura4, winner of the in-campus Queen Mary competition, competed at the London (European) Regionals with over 60 teams registered from Europe and other parts of the world. Their entrepreneurial idea is to set up and deliver a scalable and sustainable social enterprise that harnesses the power of energy and will transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025 by creating low-cost high-quality medical supplies made with bamboo such as bamboo balls, gauzes, bandages and buds. These products are usually made with cotton; and with bamboo, Natura4 can get the same end-product in a more sustainable and inexpensive way. The company is composed of three Masters students of the School of Business Management, Queen Mary University of London.
On the 9 March 2018 the team worked with Dr Evangelos Markopoulos to finalise their pitching script and financial and operational plans. At 11:30am on Saturday 10 March, the official pitch day, in front of experienced and prestigious judges team Natura4 delivered an excellent pitch and presentation; and confidently fielded the questions that were put to them. After a three hour wait they were the first to find out that the judges had selected them to be one of six teams to present again at another venue, in front of all the teams, the guests, press and all the judges for the winning ticket to the HULT Prize accelerator (2 months in the summer) and from there to New York and the UN for the finals.
Although UCL won the London (European) Regionals it is not over for team Natura4. As the team that won second place they still have a chance to go forth to the next round. This will involve submitting a video and a PowerPoint presentation by 1st April to win a wildcard ticket. As 50 teams go to the next stage, the Accelerator, there will be 15 winners of the world regionals so there is the possibility of obtaining one of the 35 wildcards! Good luck to team Natura4 who are still in the game.
"I feel fortunate and blessed to have students with such winning and ambitious personalities, ethos, commitment, intelligence and passion for knowledge, opportunities and life. They proudly represented SBM and QMUL at the most challenging HULT Prize regional competitions in Europe (London) and in North America (San Francisco). I am very proud for both teams but also for SBM and QMUL for the tremendous and continuous support on this journey"
Dr Evangelos Markopoulos, Associate Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
"Hult Prize has been a wonderful experience filled with challenges, learning and growth. Certainly, having been selected in the top 6 in the London Regionals reinforces the conviction and faith we have in our project. We thank the professors and staff from QMUL for their support and advice in the development of our enterprise." Laura Melissa Lopez Gonzalez, Team Natura4.
From left to right: Dr Evangelos Markopoulos, Anna Magdalena Urbanska, Laura Melissa Lopez Gonzalez and Evangelia Mitsa
Team Rainbow, got second place in the in-campus competitions and received a wildcard to present at the San Francisco (North America) regionals. Their idea identified that across different countries, there are more than 70 Million left-behind children in the world. They would like to harness the power of connectivity to better their lives. Their solution is firstly using Apps to connect families across these distances which is shared between the children, their parents, families and volunteers. Secondly, they aim to provide physical HUBs like a local classroom, Library room, children’s home, tearoom, and playground. Volunteers can organize all kinds of activities for children, especially sports. They believe their combination of HUBs and Apps will help to bring colour and hope to their otherwise hopeless situations.
San Francisco was the most competitive regionals as all the US was competing in the world’s Capital of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, right next to the Silicon Valley. There were regional finalist teams from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, and all the top American schools, plus teams from other parts of the world.
Again, Dr Evangelos Markopoulos worked with team Rainbow to finalise their financial plan, slides design and aesthetics. On Saturday 9 March 2018, 12 noon (8pm London time) they successfully pitched their idea. Although they did not make it to the top six, however, due to their unique idea the judges encouraged them to also apply for the wildcard. The winner of the San Francisco regionals was Rollins College from Florida, USA.
"The opportunity to present at the HULT regional finals in San-Francisco was awesome, and we learned a huge amount from some great teams! Meeting Ahmad Ashkar, CEO of HULT Prize and Sheryl Chamberlain Chair of HULT prize Council (and Chief of Staff at the Linux Foundation) was a high point for us and their encouragement to apply for the wild-card has really spurred us on to take our presentation to the next level. To this end we are working hard to make a video to showcase the Rainbow Project. “
Meilin Wu, Team Rainbow.
From left to right: Gerhard Spitsak, Ahmad Ashkar (CEO of HULT Prize), Meilin Wu, Muhammad Ikrimah Bhutta
Congratulations to both Queen Mary teams who are still in with a chance of progressing to the next stage of the Hult Prize. Their participation in this prestigious competition has already generated interest in their ideas and both teams have been invited to participate and represent SBM and Queen Mary at the European Innovation Academy.