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Hult Prize competitors: two Western & Ivey teams advance to regionals

Feb 11, 2015

hult prize teams

Competing students (from left) Denise Liu, Dimuth Kurukula, Ahsan Syed, Eleni Petrou, Shivani Chotalia, Haejo Kim, Angelica Martinez, Eric Huang, and Daniel Andru

Two teams of students from Western University and Ivey Business School are headed to the regional finals of the sixth annual Hult Prize Challenge, making them one step closer to the $1-million prize.

The Hult Prize Challenge, the world’s largest student competition and start-up platform for social good, takes place March 13 and 14 in five cities around the world: Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai.

The theme for this year’s challenge is Early Childhood Education: The Unmet Need of the Century. Teams will think of sustainable, high-quality solutions to help the 10 million children globally who don’t have access to early education.

The Western teams are competing in different cities, but if they advance, they’ll meet head-to-head for the grand prize.

Two teams. Nine students.

Daniel Andru, HBA; Eric Huang, HBA and Economics; Haejo Kim, Psychology and Physiology; and Angelica Martinez, Biology and French are set to compete in Boston.

Shivani Chotalia, HBA and Green Process Engineering; Denise Liu, HBA; Ahsan Syed, HBA and Environmental Science; Eleni Petrou, HBA and Law; and Dimuth Kurukula, Geography will compete in Dubai.

Neither team has a concrete idea yet, but with the competition weeks away, they’re narrowing down exactly what they want to focus on.

“People come into it saying ‘I want to revolutionize,’” Andru says. “But there are a lot of players already in the space that are doing a lot of good. [We’re trying to] help them in some way. It doesn’t make sense to crowd the market.”

Applying their knowledge

Above all else, the teams are taking this as an opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned so far at Western and Ivey.

“We want to present ourselves in the coherent and story-like way that we’ve been taught at Ivey,” Syed says. “We’re hoping we can use our advantages, our networks and the research facilities here at Ivey, to the best of our abilities. And hopefully take home the prize.”

What’s next?

Balancing regular schoolwork, extracurricular activities, social lives, and Hult Prize prep, the students are in for a busy few weeks. With just over a month to go, both teams are kicking their preparation into high gear.

“We’re just going to be busting our butts off,” Syed says with a laugh. “What’s the politically correct way of saying that?”

“We’re going to be working very, very hard for the next month,” Petrou says.