The Hult Prize at Brac University: A Journey of Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship

The Hult Prize at Brac University A Journey of Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship

In the realm of collegiate competitions, the Hult Prize stands as a beacon of hope and innovation, challenging students globally to devise impactful solutions for critical social issues. Renowned as the “Nobel Prize for students,” this prestigious contest offers a staggering $1 million in seed capital to the victorious team, enabling them to launch a social enterprise aimed at addressing key global challenges like food security, water access, and renewable energy in vision to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Since its inception in 2010, inspired by Charles Kane’s lecture and spearheaded by ambitious MBA students from the Hult International Business School, the Hult Prize has evolved into a global phenomenon, captivating students from over 100 countries.

Brac University, a vibrant academic hub in Bangladesh, has been an active participant in this prestigious competition since 2014. The university’s journey in the Hult Prize chronicles numerous successes, marked by innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. In 2019, Team Elpida’s victory in the On-Campus round with their renewable energy project exemplified the university’s commitment to social entrepreneurship. This trajectory of success continued with Team Synergy winning the 2016 Shanghai Regional Round and Team Shurjomukhi’s innovative biodegradable plastic idea reaching the top 6 in the Vietnam regionals in 2020.

The year 2023 was particularly remarkable for Brac University, as Team RENWR’s pioneering reselling marketplace idea, which aimed to empower female tailors and the transgender community, made it to the global semi-finals in Lisbon, Portugal. This project highlighted the university’s dedication to creating sustainable and inclusive business models.

Overseeing these endeavors is the Hult Prize foundation’s appointed campus director. For the 2024 On-Campus rounds, the responsibility fell on the capable shoulders of Mushfiq Mahmud Majumder, a 3rd-year BBA student. Mushfiq’s leadership was instrumental in assembling a dedicated team to manage the event, a task accomplished through a meticulous recruitment process

The inaugural information session for the 2023-2024 edition, held in Brac University’s grand auditorium at the Mohakhali campus, marked the beginning of the real challenge. This event, featuring insights from past achievers, Ms. Saika Binte Islam, a standout in the Semi-Final Global Round’s top six and the victor of the 2022 – 2023 Hult Prize at BracU, along with the former campus director, Mr. Sirzil Haider and industry experts, Mr. Nafees Salim, Founder & CEO of the Impact Academy, served as an inspiring springboard for aspiring social entrepreneurs. The session illuminated the competition’s intricacies and provided invaluable guidance. 

Alongside, the OnCampus startup registration was now open. Several registration booths were strategically set up and posters were stapled scattered on the hotspots of BracU Mohakhali and Residential Campus for 14 days. The booths were not just for registration but also acted as an information hub, where organizers helped prospective participants with queries and confusions about Hult Prize and the registration guidelines.

In addition, an informative workshop was held at BRAC University’s residential campus, where Mukit Anis, lecturer at BRAC Business School and a former campus director, shared essential guidelines and inspiration for students starting their Hult Prize journey there.

The 2024 competition theme, “Unlimited,” resonated with the record-breaking 400 registrations received by the Brac University team, a testament to the growing interest and enthusiasm among the student body and a record registration of BracU history.

The Hult Prize at Brac University also boasted an impressive roster of sponsors and partners under the adept leadership of Mushfiq and Mustafa Abid Rahman, the Head of Strategic partnership. Prominent names like PRAN, WaffleUP, Markedium, and Business Inspector joined as sponsors, alongside media partners like The Business Standard and Somoy TV, highlighting the competition’s growing prominence

On November 25th, the esteemed Impact Pitch, serving as the semi-final round of the Hult Prize at Brac University, was diligently organized. This pivotal event featured an illustrious panel of judges, comprising distinguished industry professionals and faculty members. The round’s significance was heightened by the calibre of its judges, who meticulously evaluated the participating teams’ business models and innovations. 

The panel included five notable figures: Sifat Islam Ishty, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics and Social Science at BRAC University; Saif Hossain, Assistant Professor and Director of the BBA Program at BRAC Business School, BRAC University; Atifi Khaled, Category Head at US Bangla Group; Riad Hossain, the Incharge of Depot Accounts at Berger Paints Bangladesh Limited and Sagar Mazumder, an award-winning entrepreneur, Former Manager, Supply Chain (Former Multinational AKK WaterHealth International).

Their combined expertise and insight were instrumental in discerning the most promising teams among the contenders. After a thorough and rigorous evaluation process, the judges narrowed down the competition to five finalist teams: AlphaPi, ATIF, Clean Sweep, FashionX, and Jade. These teams demonstrated exceptional innovation and business acumen, earning their place in the final round of the competition.

As the final round approaches, the Hult Prize team at Brac University is intensifying its efforts, planning additional workshops to fine-tune the finalists’ presentations. With the dedicated efforts of the Campus Director and his team, this year’s Hult Prize at Brac University promises to be a landmark event, showcasing the spirit of innovation and social responsibility that defines the university’s ethos.

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