hultprize

Last year, Chocfully, a team of Penn freshmen, qualified for the Boston regionals of the Hult Prize. The Hult Prize Foundation allows university students all over the world to develop solutions for a particular international challenge. The challenge this year is Urban Crowded Spaces. | DP File Photo

If you have a great idea which addresses a significant world problem, then you could be the next millionaire.

The Hult Prize Foundation, founded in 2009, is a relatively new startup organization which allows students at universities all over the world to develop solutions to a particular international challenge. Every year, former President Bill Clinton releases a challenge for students to address. Students generally compete in teams of four to five and present their ideas at various levels of the competition. The winning innovation at the global level receives $1,000,000 for the project to be funded and implemented as a social enterprise.

The organization recently formed a chapter at Penn and is headed by campus director Isabella Rahm. Rahm works to coordinate the Hult Prize@ competition at Penn.

Penn became involved with the Hult Prize Foundation when a Penn team entered as a general applicant in 2014 and became the runner-up in the final round of the competition. The team was called Sweet Bites and developed a chewing gum to alleviate tooth decay. This team was the inspiration for Hult Prize@ Penn.

Penn is one of 150 schools which hosts a local competition in which undergraduate and graduate students compete against each other in a preliminary round. At the local level, teams are also allowed to have an alumnus from the school. The next round is the regional finals, which invites the winner from the local round at each school as well as general applicants.

 “There are five to six winners at the regional level that do an accelerator during the summer, which is basically where they get to implement their idea in the field,” Rahm said. These teams then pitch their ideas to world leaders in New York City, and the winner’s idea is given the funding for execution.

Rahm works closely with three other directors who also play a major role in organizing the Penn competition. College sophomore Tiffany Yau is the director of marketing, Wharton junior Marissa Kay serves as the director of logistics and Wharton sophomore Mariana Repsold is the director of corporate and sponsorship. Yau’s position in the organization focuses on developing advertising materials and strategies to garner more student awareness and involvement. On the other hand, Kay is responsible for coordinating the logistics of the venue after all of the teams have signed up.

According to Rahm, the Clinton Global Initiative has decided that this year’s challenge is urban crowded spaces. Students from all backgrounds are encouraged to participate by signing up and developing a creative idea to solve the proposed challenge. The challenge changes every year, which is known to draw excitement and innovation from participants.

“It’s about taking the resources that we have here at Penn and trying to give that back to communities that are not as well off,” Rahm said. 

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