As a GMBA student, it is my pleasure to share with you the amazing Hult Prize journey had along with my three other team members from NTU EiMBA program. Comprised of students from EiMBA and GMBA programs, Mark Yeh (Year 109), Irene Wang (Year 110), YiChi Cheng (Year 108) and I (Year 110) formed the “cooseii” team early this year and won the National Taiwan University Intramural Campus Competition in late March. Representing Taiwan and National Taiwan University, “cooseii” then made its way to the Asia-Pacific Regional Competition in May and defeated teams from South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong, earning its championship in the Asia-Pacific region. With this honor, the team was invited to Boston for a three-week Accelerator Program in August, where they were joined by 28 other prestigious start-ups that stood out in each of their respective regional competitions. At the end of the accelerator program, six of the 28 startups were then chosen by a panel of judges to compete at the Global Hult Prize Final Competition in New York in September, and with the team’s unremitting efforts, “cooseii” stood out from the fierce competition and earned its spot for competing in New York. Although cooseii did not win first place in the final competition, the six-month journey was nevertheless one of the best experiences I had since I graduated from college.
Known as the Nobel Prize for university students, the annual Hult Prize Competition, led by the United Nations and Clinton Global Initiatives, is an entrepreneurship- and commerce-based competition for university students. Through the concept of crowdsourcing (#Crowdsourcing), which is to gather the power of the masses to solve real-world problems, students from different universities team up to challenge and solve pressing global social issues, such as food security, energy, education, and poverty, through innovative social ventures. Students are encouraged to create business models that are signed up to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and each year, one team receives $1M USD in funding to make their model into reality. Hult Prize has a different call to action each year, and this year’s call to action is: Getting the World Back to Work (Creating 2000 meaningful job opportunities by 2024). With this in mind, the “cooseii” team hoped to bring a positive impact to the world and thus created a new model of value creation by providing meaningful work opportunities to the disabilities and low socioeconomic groups rather than just grants and donations.
Throughout the journey of the Hult Prize competition in New York and the three-week accelerator program in Boston, my team and I were able to meet successful mentors from diverse backgrounds through workshops and feedback sessions. One of the greatest things I’ve picked up from the mentoring program is the uniqueness of cross-culture mentoring that upholds the different values and worldviews of mentors toward a single topic. Their experiences and perspectives helped us expand our own through business model enhancement and market validation, allowing us to be more agile in thinking as decision-makers and leaders. We were also very privileged to meet teams from other universities that seek to improve health, education, environment, and economic growth with hand-in-hand strategies. From manufacturing biodegradable sanitary pads using banana fiber to end period poverty, collecting unsold and surplus bread to brew local craft beer, or to creating a platform that aims to hire professionals with disability through remote work, each team is gifted with innovative ideas and the urge to solve global pressing issues. These passionate talents gave us a deeper thought into global issues that may be misrepresented but are all closely related. Each team strives to solve real-world problems with its own background, expertise, and horizon. Having the opportunity to meet and learn from them really helped us think deeper and look further into our fragmented world and reflect on what we can do to help improve resilience and growth. The journey of the Hult Prize Competition is only six-month-long, but the fruitful exchange of views and minds that lies behind is what makes it one of a kind.
(Written by GMBA student Annie Kuo)