Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University to host December 11 Hult Prize Competition for $1 million grand prize


The Blackstone LaunchPad at Bird Library will host a December 11 campus qualifier for the Hult Prize, the world’s largest student competition for the creation of new social businesses. Known as “The Nobel Prize for student startups,” the Hult Prize awards $1,000,000 in start-up funding to the team of students that develops the most innovative idea to solve one of the world’s toughest challenges.

In partnership with the United Nations, the Hult Prize hosts campus events around the world in search of the next game-changing start-up. Each year, the Hult Prize focuses on one grand challenge, inviting applicants to respond to that theme. This year’s challenge is “Harnessing the Power of Energy – Hult Prize.”

The December 11 campus competition is open to Syracuse University and SUNY ESF students, with a registration deadline of December 4. The winner of the Syracuse campus competition will automatically advance to compete in one of 15 regional finals happening around the world in March 2018.  One winning team from each host city will then move into an eight-week summer residency at the Hult Castle accelerator in the United Kingdom, where participants will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business.  A final round of competition will be hosted in September 2018 at the United Nations, where the winning team will be awarded the $1,000,000 prize.

Read more about the Syracuse competition and apply on-line here by December 4.

Applicant teams will pitch their ideas on December 11 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Bird Library.  They will be judged by a panel of distinguished civic entrepreneurs on their innovative approach to building a scalable, sustainable social enterprise that harnesses the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025.  This year’s challenge includes six core areas ripe for transformation through energy-powered innovation, including:

  • Connectivity
  • Mobility
  • Farming, food, and agriculture
  • Water collection, storage, and transport
  • Health and the human experience
  • Education

“Energy is the lifeline of humanity.  When you harness the power of energy creatively, you can change the world,” notes the Hult Prize committee.  “The world has enough latent capacity for energy-powered innovation to shift the trajectory of global development. This year’s six dimensions of energy affect all of humanity.”

“Solving the world’s most pressing challenges is not just the right thing to do, it is also good business,” said Ahmad Ashkar, CEO of Hult Prize, who conceived of the competition in 2009 as an enterprising MBA student at the Hult International Business School.  Ashkar’s idea — to leverage the crowd to generate startup ideas from young people to sustainably solve the world’s most critical social challenges, has grown the Hult Prize into the world’s biggest engine for the launch of for-good, for-profit student startups.

Funded by Bertil Hult, a Swedish billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, the annual, year-long competition challenges college students around the world to solve a pressing social issue related to topics such as food security, water access, energy, and education. The Hult family donates $1,000,000 in seed capital to help the winning team launch its social enterprise. The Hult Prize Foundation has been featured in a TIME Magazine Cover Story highlighting the “Top 5 Ideas Changing the World.”

This year’s challenge is described in greater detail here. Applicants are strongly advised to download and thoroughly read the complete challenge package to understand the parameters of the competition.

The Syracuse campus challenge is being coordinated by Kennedy Patlan, Blackstone LaunchPad Engagement Scholar. “It’s not everyday that you have an opportunity to change the world,” said Patlan, who was selected as the Syracuse campus Hult Prize coordinator. “This is our chance to show the world that the Syracuse university community is dedicated to impact.”

To sign-up for more information about the Hult campus competition and other upcoming opportunities, please e-mail

To learn more about the Hult Foundation and the Hult Prize Competition, visit