Hult Prize event seeks social innovation startups


In an effort to promote innovation, creative problem solving and social good at CWRU, the university will host an official Hult Prize qualifier event.  The Hult Prize, billed as the world’s largest student competition to solve the world's toughest challenges, awards $1 million in seed funding to the winning team to build their business.
This year’s theme is Crowded Urban Spaces – building sustainable, scalable fast-growing enterprises that double the income of people living in crowded urban spaces by connecting them to goods, services and capital.
The national contest is limited to 20,000 applicants – 300 teams in the regional competition that CRWU is a part of. “The event will show students that anyone of any background or skill set can be an entrepreneur and make a real difference with nothing more than an idea,” says Cole Morris, organizer and intern for event planning and marketing at Blackstone LaunchPad
Ten to 15 teams made up of CWRU undergraduate and graduate students and alumni will pitch their ideas on Saturday, Nov. 21 at from noon to 2 p.m. at Thwing Center. Teams will have five minutes to present their ideas, followed by five minutes of questioning from judges Lev Gonick, CEO of OneCommunity; Craig Nard director of CWRU School of Law; and Alison Tanker, founder of Tigress. Additional judges may be selected. 
Some students attended a workshop day last Sunday, Nov. 15 at StartMart to take advantage of the wealth of entrepreneurial experts. "We were able to provide a venue for very focused one-on-one time between mentors and participants," says Morris. "Many of the participants were very pleased at the ideas they developed and directions they pursued."
The workshop was good preparation for the pitch competition. “By offering live workshops, the guidance of talented and experienced mentors, and a vast array of resources from many of Cleveland's top startup accelerators, we plan to engage a diverse group of students and show how far an idea, their ability to think critically and creatively, and a willingness to help others can truly go,” Morris says.
Mentors and supporters include StartMart; BioEnterprise; the Health-Tech Corridor; EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute; the CWRU IP Venture Clinic; Blackstone LaunchPad; non-profit grant writer Roslyn Chao; and Triple Analytics.
"We’re targeting innovation and offering resources to fix the world,” says Morris.
Pitch teams must be affiliated with CWRU. The teams are made up of three to four members, one of whom can be an alumni. Team registration is still open. The event is open to the public.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.