AMMAN — "It is not every day that you have an opportunity to change the world. By representing their university at the upcoming Hult Prize Jordan, young Jordanians now have the chance to show the world that their institution is dedicated to creating a sustainable impact," said Salahaldeen Alazaizeh, University of Jordan’s (UJ) campus director.
The world’s largest student competition and crowd-sourcing platform for the creation of new social businesses, the Hult Prize is coming to Jordan’s King Hussein Business Park between May 3-5 to give young Jordanians the chance to seize $150,000 in seed funding for their innovative projects.
“Hult Prize Nationals leverages in-country university students to solve global challenges with a dedicated local accelerator and a prize to be awarded to the winning startup,” a Hult Prize statement said in an e-mail sent to The Jordan Times.
One of the world’s foremost platform for the launch of sustainable and impact centred startups emerging from universities through a $1 million grant, the prize also includes national competitions in a number of countries including Jordan in 2017, India, Ecuador, Tunisia, Lebanon and Rwanda, among others.
“The idea of having a branch in Jordan started from the founder Ahmad Ashkar who believes that Jordanian youth have one the biggest potential in the region and maybe the world to have successful social entrepreneurs and successful startups that can be involved in the Hult Prize journey of leading a generation to change the world,” said Mohammed Sammour, head of campuses at Hult Prize Jordan.
“In 2017, we had almost 1,000 participants with more than 230 teams from 12 universities across Jordan including UJ, the Jordan University of Science and Technology, Yarmouk University, Hashemite University and the German Jordanian University [GJU], among others," he told The Jordan Times.
The 36 selected teams are scheduled to compete in front of 12 judges who are experts in energy, businessmen and corporate representatives, according to Sammour.
“We are living in a time where economic disparities between the rich and the poor are greater than ever… in a world where war and conflict are the standard not the exception. While we have advanced technologically as a society and global interconnectivity has made us more empathetic — we have collectively failed to rise up and take action against these global atrocities even though we are more equipped today than any other generation before us to solve them,” said Ahmad Ashkar, Hult Prize CEO.
“The Prize aims to inspire, activate, build and fund startup solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues. We focus on moving good intentions into action as well as raising awareness to the opportunities that exist to serve the world’s less fortunate through lasting, sustainable business,” he continued.
“Since I started working as head of campuses, it has been a very rich experience to see how motivated the Jordanian youth are and witness their desire to make something different in their life,” Sammour highlighted, recalled his constant amazement at “the great quality of ideas Jordanian students have” during his tours to the various campuses.
“What makes the Hult Prize really different is that we look for early-stage entrepreneurs; any student with an idea can apply and take a place in this journey. By time, and after the training and the networking events, those teams can improve their ideas and start building them as real startups,” the head of campuses said.
For Ammar Budair, a GJU student who participated in the previous edition, “I believe that the Hult prize presents a medium for passionate entrepreneurial students like us to turn our dreams into reality.”
In parallel, some 15 Jordanian teams travelled over the world to compete in Hult Prize Regionals finals in Melbourne, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, London, etc. "I believe the exposure the teams had during this experience has taught them a lot, which is why we are expecting very strong finals here in the Nationals,” Sammour emphasised.
First launched in 2009, this year's challenge, which has been announced by former US president Bill Clinton, focuses on the theme of “harnessing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025”, calling for solutions in the fields of connectivity, education, health, mobility, water or agriculture.