Kathryn Christopher, Brittany Taylor and Briauna Taylor presented on behalf of Platform for Progress at GVSU’s first annual Hult Prize competition on Thursday, Dec. 10. The team won the campus competition by unanimous vote with their idea to utilize existing GSM networks to expand communication and facilitate economic growth in underdeveloped, overpopulated areas. They will be going on to pitch at the Hult Prize regional competition in March for a chance to advance to the final round and compete for the $1 million prize.
GVSU is one of over one hundred universities worldwide hosting this year’s Hult Prize, the world’s largest social innovation competition that asks participants to solve society’s most pressing problems. The nine teams present at Thursday night’s competition were asked to create a social enterprise that will double the income of 10 million people living in crowded urban spaces by 2022 through better connecting people, goods, service and capital.
Among the ideas presented were a midwife training program that aims to decrease the rate of infant and maternal mortality, a micro economy system that would leverage local labor and create small businesses, solar panel workshops that create skilled workers, and a third party study abroad program that seeks to facilitate mentorship between business students and adults residing in the target areas.
“As the inaugural event of Hult Prize at GVSU, I was pleased with the quality and the breadth of diversity in the ideas presented,” Hult Prize campus director Michael Kurley said. “I am sure the winning team will represent us well at the regional finals.”
Kurley is the graduation assistant at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He applied to be a campus director after attending a Hult Prize impact retreat in London in May of 2015. Kurley believes his background as a business school graduate, entrepreneur and CEO helped him to gain approval from the Hult Prize board. Kurley is no stranger to business competitions; he and his team at Soletics have participated in over a dozen competitions and have won over $300,000 in investment capital. This experience allowed him to act as a valuable resource for teams seeking guidance and coaching on their presentations.
GVSU’s Hult Prize saw teams comprised of current students and alumni alike, hailing from a number of academic disciplines including business, nursing, and product design and mechanical engineering school. The panel of judges included Director of the technology showcase at the Mary Idema Pew Library, Eric Kunnen; Entrepreneur in Residence at GVSU, Spencer Covey; and Director of Business Operations at GR Current, Austin Dean.