University News | January 26, 2021
The long-anticipated Hokkaido University @ Hult Prize On-Campus Competition Final 2020/2021 was finally held on January 16, 2021. Taking place at Hokkaido University’s Center for Food and Medical Innovation (FMI) in Sapporo, five teams consisting of students presented their business idea in accordance with this year’s theme: Food for Good. Each team is made up of students with different academic backgrounds, but all are united by the same objective: to realize their project ideas in building a sustainable world.
The competition’s five judges also came from different areas of expertise: human resources, business, sustainable management, and more. Together, this panel determined the teams’ preparation and global-mindedness through a series of questions following the presentations before ultimately choosing the ones with the best ideas to realize. A striking difference from the previous years, the judges are present through online conferences, along with spectators due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Team Floatmeal came in as the first-place winner and automatically qualified for the upcoming regional summit. The team consists of four students: Yeni Khairina, Helmano Galvão Fernandes, Amadu Ali Nabe, and Sajjad Kamal Shuvro. Upon having seen their name announced as the winner on the screen, they could not help but to spring up in euphoria and grin from ear-to-ear. In fact, this year is not their first attempt at pitching an idea for the Hult Prize.
“We have faced failures in the previous competitions with different ideas,” admitted Nabe, speaking on behalf of the team. “But perseverance pays off, and from now we will focus on doing our best to win that $1 Million prize from Hult Prize. We want to give a good impact on people’s lives by taking the environment into consideration.”
The team name refers to their business plan that is called Floatmeal, a proprietary vertical hydroponic machine to produce a plant-based nutriment. The team estimated that their project will help to reduce 1,200 gigatons of carbon emission while providing at least 800 jobs.
Although praised for the originality of their business plan, team Ezo did not qualify, but they are aiming to improve their project proposal for upcoming opportunities. They are considering applying for the Wild Card round, in which losing teams are given a second chance to pitch their ideas.
The 1st and 2nd runner-up teams, team Vegetabelle and team I’mperfect respectively, are also qualified for the regional summits but they will need to find the necessary funding. For this purpose, the committee will provide assistance. As for the winning team, they will be provided a 100,000 JPY per person budget by the committee to execute their project and prototypes as necessary.
Compared to the previous years, more challenges arose for the organizing committee. Their response to the ongoing pandemic has also been tested to the point that the team registration date has been extended more than once, a rare occurrence compared to the previous years. The committee also carefully planned to create the most proper way of hosting a competition that is observing the health protocols. Safety kits (masks, hand sanitizer, face shields) were always thoroughly prepared in advance and the competition venue was arranged to minimize the virus spread potential.
“This year’s competition offered many obstacles, especially for the organizing committee. I am truly grateful that the team managed to realize this competition, considering that this year’s Hult Prize theme is vital, which is Food,” said Prof. Takashi Inoue, the dean of Hokkaido University’s Graduate School of Global Food resources and one of the judges.
The director for the on-campus competition, Sangeetha Ratnayake, described the troubles that her team had encountered on the way to the competition’s final. “Long-running plans are out of questions for most of the time because the unstable situation prompted us to make many quick changes. On several occasions, we even only had days or hours between the decision and the execution. We could not possibly have managed if it were not for all the help that we received.”
“Despite the hard work, being a part of the Hult Prize on-campus program is rewarding. Not only that you will receive internationally recognized certification by joining the committee, but you will have many chances to meet interesting people: superstar entrepreneurs, CEOs, impact workers, and most importantly, new friends,” added Ratnayake who is encouraging everyone to be a part of the world’s largest student entrepreneurship competition.
Learn more about Hult Prize @ Hokkaido University here.
Written by Aprilia Agatha Gunawan