On the 10th of November, the E-Cell of Jadavpur University, like every other year, organised and hosted the Hult Prize, an international entrepreneurship competition under the Bill Clinton initiative (presented by the Hult International Business School in partnership with the United Nations Foundation). This event is an annual entrepreneurship contest that crowdsources startup ideas from students who have the potential to solve a current pressing issue of global concern.
The Hult Prize was founded by its CEO Ahmad Ashkar in 2009, and this year marks its 10th anniversary. It is one of the world’s most acclaimed entrepreneurship programs operating on more than 1500 university campuses in 121 countries and has become a benchmark startup challenge for social entrepreneurship. The challenge statement for this year was “Building Startups That Have A POSITIVE IMPACT ON OUR PLANET with every revenue generated with the goal of reaching 1 million consumers within a decade.”
When aspiring young minds work towards a social goal and piece together their vision, sparks are bound to fly. Dr Sayan Chatterjee, the University’s Startup Co-ordinator, stressed on fresh thinking as the need of the hour.
Jadavpur University witnessed the participation of numerous aspiring teams who graced the event with a myriad of dynamic ideas. They were divided into three rooms, each judged by a panel of accomplished judges, who had made a difference in their respective fields. The teams that qualified in this round were directly promoted to the finals, following which, the winners were declared.
The students came up with diverse ideas. For example, one team pitched the proposal of designing a drone run by solar energy that could be utilised for quick transportation of medicines under emergency. Another team proposed the use of a certain material that could absorb the heat from the exhaust of a car, which would then be used to generate energy to power the rest of the car further. Thus, essentially saving fuel.
One of the honoured judges Mr Debashis Ghosh, offered some valuable advice to the participants, he said, “Four key areas should be kept in mind: What are you going to do? Why are you doing it? How are you going to do it? And, when will you be ready with your product or strategy?”
The Pro Vice Chancellor, Prof. Chiranjib Bhattacharjee, called Jadavpur University a product of an enterprising venture by a few nationalists during the colonial era to produce home-grown engineers and has ever since always encouraged innovation among students and strongly supported events like the HULT foundation.
The winning team had the unique vision and as admitted by the judges, were unanimously voted on. They came up with the idea of collecting organic waste and synthesizing it to extract ingredients that would allow it to be moulded to create a new material with biodegradable properties, making it more eco-friendly, and hence, sustainably replacing the harmful polythene.
Out of the 65 participating teams, one winner and two runner-ups were declared. They will get a chance to represent their vision internationally, and if chosen, they will receive a million dollars to kickstart their entrepreneurship scheme.
Special mention must be given to the Jadavpur University E-Cell for not only successfully pulling off the event on the D-day but also for conducting several boot camps and informative workshops with separate sessions for pitch, business model, networking/team building etc., before the event. The HULT Campus Director Abhishek Gupta coordinated the event.
The event was covered by the Jadavpur University official students’ media body, JUxPress.
The very idea behind this initiative is remarkable. It deserves applaud for not only getting together young minds to discuss and debate over pressing issues in the world today but also for getting them to act on it.
Prof. Amitava Gupta is the president of the newly-constituted Institution’s Innovation Council (IIC) at Jadavpur University. It is one of the few institutes in the country where faculty members involve themselves in development of cutting edge technology serving the nation’s needs in critical application areas, with innovation as the mainstay, and students get an opportunity to work on some of these modules.
Every year, this competition witnesses the overflowing of ideas and encourages aspirations in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Such endeavors deserve to be supported and valued as important to our society, and all participants, judges and organisers must be commended for their involvement in it.
Wishing the winning teams from Jadavpur University who will be flying to Tokyo and other international cities for the next level of the competition, the very best!