York alumni host Hult Prize Toronto Regional Final at York U

Two York University alumni worked together to host the Hult Prize Regional Finals at York University, with Toronto being one of eight locations for the regional competition held March 9 and 10 followed by seven more locations hosting the competition on March 16 and 17.

Akash Sidhu (Schulich School of Business, BBA ’17) and Joseph Truong (Schulich School of Business, BBA ’17) worked together to host the event, which brought more than 42 teams from across the world to York’s Keele Campus.

Both Sidhu and Truong were part of a team of four undergraduate business students from York University’s Schulich School of Business to win the Hult Prize Regional Finals in Shanghai in 2017.

HULT regionals

Akash Sidhu (Schulich School of Business, BBA ’17) and Joseph Truong (Schulich School of Business, BBA ’17)

The 2018 Hult Prize Challenge focuses on the theme “Harnessing the Power of Energy”. With the backing of the world-renowned Hult International Business School, EF Education First and the United Nations, the Hult Prize Challenge empowers young people to engage their entrepreneurial spirits, connect and collaborate with partners and mentors, and change the world for the better.

This year, teams presented their game-changing ideas on how to harness the power of energy to impact more than 10 million people. The annual Hult Prize Challenge, which has been featured by TIME Magazine as one of the “Top 5 Ideas Changing the World,” welcomes university students from around the world to solve some of the world’s most pressing development issues by launching for-good, for-profit businesses.

Two teams from York University competed at the Toronto regionals this year – Team Lyofresh (which placed in the top six) and Team Dharaa.

Team Lyofresh members included Philipp Garber, Nick Steele, Shane Guignard and Atefeh Rezaie. Lyofresh is a startup out of York University focused on commercializing a novel method of freeze-drying with the vision of ending world hunger. Lyofresh is developing a proprietary freeze-drier that is much cheaper to build, faster to run, and far less energy-intensive than anything on the market. The team’s plan is to follow Biolite’s model of parallel innovation, thus developing and selling advanced freeze-drying units to commercial users while reinvesting the proceeds to develop a robust, basic unit for use in regions characterized by an abundant renewable energy resource, food insecurity, and lack of storage capacity.

Team Dharaa members included Utkarsh Pandey, Simran Kanda, Chirag Sardana and Hashim Raza. Dharaa worked on the statistic that 135,445 low-income farmers committed suicide in India in 2012 alone. The rest who didn’t were left paralyzed by huge loans with barely any money to fund their families. These waxing numbers are a result of poor infrastructure and low resource accessibility. Industrial competition and crop failure are other contributors to this issue. Dharaa’s model employs technologies like solar panels and bio-gas. Electricity from solar panels will provide water access while bio-gas will provide methane for cooking. Through a profitable business venture, the team plans to increase farmers’ income and reduce their dependence on fluctuating sources surrounding them.

Over the past decade, aspiring entrepreneurs have transformed ideas into startup companies in order to address, alleviate and solve a host of global challenges, including poverty, the global food crisis and most recently, the global refugee crisis.

The Hult Prize ran regional competitions in 15 cities across the globe this year, with winners attending a boot-camp style “accelerator” to develop their ideas into investment-ready companies. These companies are then pitched at the Hult Prize Global Finals, where a $1-million(U.S.) prize is awarded as seed capital to the winning enterprise.

For more on the competition, visit the Hult Prize website.

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