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Riding towards the Hult Prize Global semi-finals

Rollins College held its Final Competition for the Hult Prize, an annual competition in which teams of college students from across the world generate startup ideas to solve critical social challenges. This competition, held on November 9, determined which team will move on to the global semi-finals for a chance to win $1 million to put their plan into action.

This year, the challenge was to create a sustainable social enterprise that harnesses the power of energy and is able to be implemented on a large and small scale. Rollins had four competing teams. Each had six weeks to come up with an idea and create a pitch, including information about potential business models and the sustainability of the idea. Pitches lasted six minutes, followed by a four-minute Q&A session with the judges. Teams presented to a panel of four judges, which included Dr. Rollins Professor of Environmental Studies Bruce Stephens, Director of Sustainability for the City of Orlando Chris Castro,CEO of Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator Ben Hoyer, and Senior Project Developer at ESA Renewables Justin Vandenbroeck.

The first to present was team “Thermal Charge,” comprised of Lauren Pearce ’19, Jacob Rodriguez ’19, and Jonathan Guacaneme ’18. They proposed the creation and sale of small kits from which one could assemble a solar-thermal device made of recyclable items. This device could hold energy to charge a light bulb cell phone in the case of an emergency.

The second team to present was team “Piezy,” comprised of Matias Meirelles van Vliet ’19, Nicole Hall-Eser ’19, and Dayra Diaz ’18. They proposed two methods of utilizing piezoelectricity–the process of using a certain type of crystal and pressure in order to generate electricity. The team focused on the use of bicycles, suggesting the creation of a “power bank” in which the pressure caused by a bike tire when pressed against the ground could be used to generate electricity through stationary bikes. The team also pitched the creation of a sleeve that could go around a bike tire that could be hooked up to a battery pack; the battery pack would charge as you ride your bike.

The third team was team “BRP Corporations,” consisting of Bidhit and Bibhas R. Pandey ’20. They pitched the idea of not only burning waste to generate energy—a common practice today—but also purifying the off gases in order to use it at fuel.

The final team to present was team “Energy Kick,” composed of Crummer students Katie Wookey, Rebecca Marshall, and Ari Davis. They pitched the idea of a mobile Fair Trade coffee franchise where five percent of sales would go towards the creation of energy hubs in underdeveloped areas.

After deliberation, the judges ranked the teams. In fourth place was BRP Corporations, followed by Thermal Charge in third and Energy Kick in second. As such, team Piezy came in first place –a well-deserved win—and will be moving forward to participate in the global semi-finals.

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