What is the Hult Prize?

The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator for impact entrepreneurship which brings together the brightest college and university students from around the globe to solve the world’s most pressing issues through pitching ideas and launching companies. It’s the biggest and most prestigious start-up event in the world, and awards millions of dollars in investment capital to young budding entrepreneurs, including a grand prize of USD1Million.

You don’t need an idea to start. Particpants  compete in local events organized in cities, countries and on campuses around the world. Regional and national programs are hosted world-wide and winners of these events get to spend 8-weeks living, working, learning and playing in a castle in the UK. If you can’t make any of our in-person events, we also have a  wild-card round which takes place virtually – everything happens in person, because that’s how you create entrepreneurs. If your university doesn’t host an on-campus round or you would just rather apply into a regional round, please apply using any of the links on this page. Regional events host on-campus winners and teams from around the world, so feel free to apply anywhere, not just the city closest to you. In 2018, we are hosting regional final events in: Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai, Toronto, Mexico City, Quito, Bogota, Melbourne, Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo, Tunisia, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and on-line. Winning start-ups from each city move onto the Hult Prize Accelerator for the summer before attending the President Bill Clinton hosted global finals at the United Nations, which take place in September, during UNGA.  The Hult Prize is the official kick-off to UN GLOBAL GOALS WEEK, so it’s the perfect place to pitch for a million dollars. Collectively, more than one-hundred thousand students around the world, representing more than 150 countries participate in the Hult Prize and spend over 10 million man-hours on solving the world’s most pressing issues. Tens of thousands more students organize various trainings and programming throughout the years. Through crowdsourcing, training, mentorship and funding, the Hult Prize seeks to build and launch the next wave of social entrepreneurs, all of whom are poised to change the world…. Ready?

Are participants supposed to solve a specific problem?

Yes. Each year, a pressing social challenge is selected by President Clinton and becomes the theme for the respective cycle. The “President’s UN Challenge” provides a specific and measurable objective that each participating team is intended to solve through the creation of a sustainable enterprise. In March, selected participants are invited to pitch their start-ups that specifically address the challenges identified in that year’s challenge.  A clearly defined framework is also provided to ensure your idea contains the necessary qualities and mandates to be an innovation breakthrough.

How can college and university students help with a social challenge?

Traditional non-profit organizations struggle to make a telling contribution despite having a potentially powerful solution to a problem. Not because they lack commitment or funding, but because they face execution hurdles that can only be solved by leveraging a wide range of skill-sets and an on-the-ground understanding of the situation.

Overcoming execution hurdles is what colleges and universities teach their students, specifically business schools, since the ability to execute is critical in business. Furthermore, business schools are home to a wide variety of students from different industries and countries that collectively have a very broad knowledge base. Harnessing this resource through crowd-sourcing innovative ideas and solutions is a technique that is poised to create radical breakthroughs in the social space.

How does the Hult Prize work?

There are multiple programs, and multiple rounds of competition. Your goal is to make it to the summer 8-week incubator which is hosted in our castle where you will live, work, learn and play as you develop your game-changing enterprise.  The top 50 companies from around the world advance.  From there, six are selected to pitch at the United Nations for USD1,000,000. There is funding and mentorship throughout.

There are three ways to become part of the top 50, 1) win a regional final round 2) win an in-country round or 3) win a wildcard round.  There are two ways into a regional final, either you win an on-campus Hult Prize which may or may not be happening at your university, or you submit into the general application window.  If none of these paths work for you, then you would have one more shot via our Hult Prize National Program which may or may not be happening in your country.  If it is, then you are in-luck because national program winners receive investment capital and a one-way ticket into our summer incubator.

We also have new program funnels which may arise between now and then like Hult Prize Ivey, but those are closed events.  Regional final cities are always changing, but for 2018 we are going to: Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai, Toronto, Mexico City, Quito, Bogota, Melbourne, Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo, Tunisia, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Once the top 50 are selected, they come to the world’s biggest and baddest incubator for social enterprise and from there, our team and network of 25,000 coaches, advisers and mentors work to make your idea real.  After 8 weeks a final six is selected to pitch at the United Nations hosted Global Finals.  The winner gets USD1,000,000.

What is the 2018 Hult Prize Challenge Topic?

The 2018 Hult Prize Challenge as announced by President Bill Clinton at the United Nations is: “Harnessing the Power of Energy to Transform the Lives of 10 Million People.” We are not necessarily looking for the next big breakthrough in energy, but rather we are looking at the application of various energy innovations to change the world. Much like the light bulb. See, it wasn’t the invention of the light bulb that changed everything, it was how people like you took that tech innovation and lit up the world with it. That’s what we are solving with this year’s challenge. Good luck!

When do applications open?

Official 2018 Global Hult Prize Applications will open on October 2nd. There will be two early bird application deadlines, with a final application deadline of December 23, 2017. On-campus events and programs are on-going.  National Programs have floating deadlines, please visit your local country page to learn more or email us at info@hultprize.org

Who is Hult?

Hult is the family name of Swedish born entrepreneur and billionaire, Bertil Hult, one of Europe’s leading entrepreneurs who founded EF Education First, the largest private education company in the world. Bertil Hult and his family help make the Hult Prize Foundation possible.

Who gets the million dollars?

The winning student team and their new start-up. Each year the Hult Prize provides one million dollars in seed capital to the winning impact enterprise of it’s flagship program.  The prize money is seeded into the newly created company, which will be run by the student team who came up with the idea. We also have funding available through our national programs which have a similar structure.

How was the Hult Prize created?

The Hult Prize is the brainchild of Ahmad Ashkar, a Hult International Business School alumnus who developed the concept whilst still a student. Ahmad had the idea after seeing Charles Kane, the CEO of One Laptop Per Child, describe some of the challenges his organization faced during a speech in class. Ahmad is currently the CEO of the Hult Prize Foundation  and continues to bring innovation and thought leadership to the social impact sector. He is the 2016 Esquire Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year and the 2017 CEO of the Year by Arabian Business.

Why the United Nations and Clinton Global Initiative?

Today, the Hult Prize is run in partnership with the United Nations.

The Clinton Global Initiative was an ideal partner for the Hult Prize until it closed in 2016 because it was dedicated to turning ideas into actions. The Clinton Global Initiative had over 2,000 members from the realms of government, private industry and non-profit organizations.

Today, President Bill Clinton is unwavering in his support of the Hult Prize and continues to  award the Prize and announce the challenge each year.  The United Nations hosts the Global Finals of the Hult Prize Flagship Challenge.

What is President Bill Clinton’s role?

President Clinton is a key partner for the Hult Prize. He personally announces the subject challenge that students tackle each year. He also provides a first-person perspective on the key issues faced, and issues the challenge question that participants solve through the creation of their start-ups for social good. President Clinton also attends and awards the UN Hult Prize Global Finals at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, every September to kick-off UNGA Global Goals Week.

What challenge will students tackle?

The Hult Prize is thematic.  Meaning, that every year a new challenge area is focused on. Our criteria for topics center around transformative business.  We short-cut challenges and market approaches to big problems and the results are nothing short of extraordinary.

Why give US$1million?

The Hult Prize remains the largest start-up program in the world for early stage social venture. The US$1,000,000 helps us move normally full profit motivated business minds into game-changing social entrepreneurs. Our community often give up jobs at Goldman, becoming doctors and attorneys and other big paying jobs to pursuit careers in impact.

Where is the money coming from?

Our flagship USD1,000,000 prize program and our operating expenditures are provided by the Hult family.  Other seed money made available to our entrepreneurs comes from various backers which include government, private and public funders.

How do teams apply?

Student teams interested in participating in the event should visit www.hultprize.org to fill out the online application. Applying is easy and consists of four easy steps:

  1. Select your city of competition
  2. Create a team of 3-4 students from your college or university that share your passion
  3. Upload your resumes and one team statement of purpose into the online application
  4. Check back regularly to see if your team has been selected or join our Facebook page

Teams selected to compete in the Regional Finals will be responsible for securing their own travel arrangement to and from the event. Training, pre-event mixer, food and drink throughout the day and post-event reception will all be covered.

You can also check www.hultprizeat.com and see if your university is hosting an “on-campus” event.  Winners of on-campus Hult Prize@ editions get to bypass the application.

Why should I apply early?

Submitting your application early is highly encouraged. It gives our selection committee more time to assess the quality of your application. Also, a limited number of teams are pre-selected before the final application deadline, giving you more time to spend on creating your social enterprise to solve the “Presidents Challenge.”

Next, often times some cities fill up faster than others, and if you submit your application early, we may be able to accommodate your team in a different region than the one you have applied for. Finally, it helps us with sorting through the sheer number of applications that come in, so we would really appreciate you getting your application in as soon as possible.

Do I need an idea to apply?

No. Your application is not based on an existing idea, or one that you may have come up with for the challenge. Unlike any competition in the world, the Hult Prize moves teams into the regional finals that have the potential to create a dynamic and disruptive start-up based on their team experience and makeup. Regional Finalists are announced the first week of January, giving you and your team a solid two months to complete your pitch. Top applications are made up of multi-cultured and multi-disciplined teams.

Who is eligible to compete?

Students from any college or university in the world are invited to form teams of 3-4.

You are considered a student if at the time of application submission, you have not yet graduated. Alumni and faculty are not allowed to be official team members.

Can individuals apply?

No. While only teams may compete, individuals who cannot form a team but are interested in competing should join the Facebook community to find others individuals who are looking to form teams.

Can a team choose which Regional Final to compete in?

Yes, teams are not limited to entering the Regional Final nearest to their school. However, clearly the additional travel and accommodation costs and visa implications must be taken into account.

Are there a maximum number of teams that can compete from each school?

While technically there is no limit, the aim of the Prize is to have as many different institutions from around the globe represented. Therefore, schools who wish to enter multiple teams are encouraged to apply for as many Regional Finals as possible.

My university is running an on-campus program, can I still apply?

Yes. While many universities and clubs around the world run a Hult Prize on-campys program to officially endorsed a team, if you participated and were unsuccessful we still encourage your team to apply.

Even if you participated in an on-campus Hult Prize round and your team was not successful, we highly encourage you to apply through the general application window. All of the Hult Prize On-Campus events worldwide will be completed prior to our final application deadline. This includes all campus directors and volunteers.

Who will cover travel costs?

Students will be responsible for any travel costs associated with competing in the Hult Prize.  Fundraising and university support is common.

How much will it cost to compete?

Registration fees for this year’s Hult Prize have all been waived. Teams will be responsible for covering their travel costs.

What if my team cannot afford these costs?

One of the most important parts of being an entrepreneur is the ability to raise funds. Historically, selected teams have not had an issue coming up with the funding required to attend one of our regional events. Often times universities afford the costs associated with travel and lodging, and in other cases teams have crowdfunded their way to the city of their choice. Think of this as the first challenge you will face as an up and coming start-up.

What training will the selected teams receive?

A series of online webinars and trainings are available to everyone who follows @hultprize and #hultprize.  Campus and National Program Director’s will also be facilitating trainings across the world. Use social media to find one near you!

Can team members come from different universities?

No. All participants should belong to the same college or university. However, this may consist of a mix of programs and undergraduate, graduate and PhD level.

Does the summer accelerator count for college credit?

Maybe. We are currently working out details regarding the accreditation of the Hult Prize Accelerator. More details will be available to those who need credits in order to participate.

Is this event open to undergraduates and non-business students?

Yes. Our application is open to anyone currently enrolled in college or university.

What if your team wins the regional but is unable to attend the Hult Accelerator?

Then your team will not be considered for the UN Finals in New York.

Is there an online version of the Hult Prize this year?

Yes. Our wildcard program will kick-off immediately following the conclusion of this year’s Regional Finals. More than one winning online round participant will advance to the summer accelerator program.

Terms and Conditions

Hult Prize Competition Terms and Conditions for the 2018 Hult Prize taking place March 9-18, 2018

Please read these competition rules, terms and conditions carefully. By entering the Hult Prize competition you acknowledge and agree to these rules, terms and conditions.

  1. To enter the competition you must be a current student of a higher education institution at the time your application was submitted.
  2. 3-4 persons may compete on each team, and only these persons will be considered as part of your team. Team members are those that are listed on your application and those that have been amended by written confirmation.
  3. Only currently enrolled students, full or part-time at the time of application submission will be considered students.
  4. Content, representations and ideas presented during the program may be published and shared with the United Nations and other strategic partners who can help advance your work on bringing healthcare to the poor. Your team has the option to opt out of section 4 of these rules, terms and conditions by emailing info@hultprize.org before the start of the Hult Prize competition, requesting your team’s “opt out.”
  5. A panel of judges who will watch and score participants will select the winner of the competition.  All decisions made by this panel in both rounds will be considered final.
  6. A panel of judges who will watch and score participants will select the winner of the competition.  All decisions made by this panel in both rounds will be considered final.
  7. The closing date is as specified in each competition, and Hult Prize reserves the right to amend the competition end date at any time.
  8. Any form of plagiarism or the presentation of intentionally unauthentic ideas and solutions will lead to forfeit.
  9. Winners from each competition will be posted on the event website and announced at the conclusion of each regional final event.
  10. By entering the competition participants agree to participate in such promotional activity and material as Hult Prize and its partners may request. This includes but is not limited to the use of photographs, videos and testimonials.
  11. One-million dollars (US$1,000,000) will be seeded into the winning company of the global flagship program which culminates in a global finals based on a pre-determined milestone. A twenty percent (20%) equity position will be held by the Hult Prize Foundation for the winning company’s participation in any of the Hult Prize program. Any future proceeds from this equity stake will be used by the Hult Prize Foundation exclusively to promote the Hult Prize program and Hult Prize activities.
  12. Runner-ups may also have the option to receive funding from the Hult Prize Mena Ventures Fund.  These funding terms will be fixed for each of the five runner-ups.
  13. Winning teams per region and of qualifying national programs will move onto a summer incubation program outside of London, UK.
  14. 6 finalists will be selected following the conclusion of the summer program and will advance to the Hult Prize Global Finals in September 2018.
  15. A housing subsidy may be provided for time spent at the Hult Prize Accelerator. Teams will live on-site in the castle residents.
  16. This competition is being run by the Hult Prize Foundation, an independently operated and governed organization sponsored by Hult International Business School and in partnership with the United Nations and it’s partners.

Please read our Privacy Policy located on the Hult Prize website (www.hultprize.org) which tells you how we use any personal information, we may collect about you by entering a competition.

Hult Prize reserves the right to amend these rules at any time and if it does so, will post an update on it’s website and notify all participants. Hult Prize may also create rules, which will apply to a specific competition only. If we do this we will publish the amended competition rules and/or specific competition rules on the relevant competition page.