UMass students to take part in Hult Prize competition on Dec. 8

By Danny Cordova

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(Courtesy of Hult Prize Official Facebook)

(Courtesy of Hult Prize Official Facebook)

The University of Massachusetts is set to host the Hult Prize, a competition between student groups to create a business plain that aims to address and solve the world’s greatest problems, on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Commonwealth Honors College.

The competition encourages students to assemble into groups and brainstorm a business plan to confront the designated issue set by the Hult Prize Foundation. This year, the teams will address the issue of living conditions in crowded urban cities.

Fifteen teams are registered to compete in the Hult Prize and around 48 students will participate. The teams will present their plans to a panel of judges, with the winner representing the University in the Hult Prize Regional Final on March 11, 2016.

“Students derive their business ideas where it’s going to help people in crowded, urban spaces increase their income and that’s using new and innovative businesses,” UMass campus director for the Hult Prize Gina Semensi said. “It could be a spin-off of something that already exists, or (it) could be something new and totally disruptive.”

Semensi, a senior business management and nutrition major, serves as a representative for UMass and was required by the Hult Prize Foundation to have at least 10 teams register for the competition, have three judges and one press release.

She was responsible for planning and picking the venue for the competition, reaching out to judges and sponsorship and securing funds from the Isenberg School of Management.

“My role has just been to spreading the word about the Hult Prize, getting people excited about a really cool opportunity that’s not just helping at UMass, but helping beyond,” Semensi said.

The panel of judges are comprised of representatives from companies like Next Step Living, a home energy-efficient company, accounting firms, and UMass faculty members like Lee Badgett, professor of economics and director of the Center of Public Policy and Administration.

Each group will have four minutes to pitch their ideas to the judges. The panel will grade each group on if their business plan aligns with the issue of crowded urban spaces.

Six of the regional finalist teams will attend the Hult Prize Accelerator, a six-week program of entrepreneurial seminars hosted by the Hult International Business School during the summer. Following the Acceleration program, the six teams will attend the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting during September.

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton will host the Hult Prize Global Finals, where the six teams will pitch their business plans. The CGI Meeting attendees, including Clinton, will select the winning team and award them with one million US Dollars in start-up funds.

“It is really cool because you could actually create your idea; a legitimate and functioning enterprise,” Semensi said.

She hopes that UMass will continue to hold the Hult Prize competition in the future.

“I’m a senior, so (hopefully) next year, it could be even more successful. We could have not 15 but 25 teams. The year after that, everyone knows about the Hult Prize and 35 teams could compete,” Semensi said.

 

Danny Cordova can be reached at [email protected]