With new and innovative ideas, 10 teams of student groups competed at UR’s Hult Prize competition on Nov. 3 to skip the selection process for the regional competition.

“If you ever had a crazy idea or passion, now is the time to explore it,” senior and Hult Prize competitor Sharfuz Shifat said.

The Hult Prize is an international competition where undergraduate and graduate students alike compete to win a $1 million prize to start a company based on their idea. This year’s Hult Prize competition topic is youth unemployment, with competitors presenting their ideas to judges with the best idea emerging as victor.

For many competitors, this competition is an outlet for  innovative and novel ideas that can spur change in the world.

“I believe in social entrepreneurship and the power of business to create social change,” said senior Shelly Chen from team Boodana.

In addition to wanting to make a lasting societal impact, some competitors have personal connections to their ideas and a strong motivation to bring them to reality.

“We’re passionate about this because it comes from our life,” sophomore Cherine Ghazouani and team Forty-Two member said. “We’re trying to make our family’s, our country’s, our people’s lives better.”

The award ceremony after the event announced the winner, and the first and second runner-ups as Team BestBeing, Team Forty-Two and Team Boodana, respectively.

Although the ideas were meant to cater to providing jobs for unemployed youth, many of the solutions proposed also addressed other problems in today’s society.

Team Boodana focused on combating child sex slavery in India’s brothel market; Team Forty-Two worked on re-inventing the impractical tutoring system in Mediterranean countries; Team BestBeing aimed to provide a solution for the lack of availability of mental health services all over the world.

While there can be only one winner, judges had high hopes for the young competitors.

“I think there’s a lot of really good ideas and a lot of passion,” judge Sean Flaherty said. “The way I look at the world of startups, if one of them is successful, the world is a better place. Jobs are created, new ideas are brought to the market, and something good will come out of it. I hope at least one of them is successful. I think there are multiple opportunities in that group of startups for that possibility to occur.”

Other competitors echoed this thought, emphasizing the necessity for new ideas in the cycle of growth for today’s society.

“It all boils down to not letting go of ideas that are good,” senior Sandesh Paudel from team CrossRoads said. “We want people to pursue as [many] good ideas as possible.”

These good ideas are sometimes few and far in between, but one judge had some insight and advice for young entrepreneurs on the keys for these great ideas.

“Usually some of the most simple and elegant solutions are the ones that are the most beautiful and impactful,” judge Anna Schreyer said. “The challenge is being able to look at things in a completely new way that’s very simple.”

“Try to step out of the box of how we do things, how we think about things.”

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