University News | January 06, 2017
On December 3rd 2017, the Campus Competition for the Hult Prize was held at Hokkaido University and its judging committee selected the winning team which will move on to the regional competition. The Hult Prize, hosted by the Hult Prize Foundation since 2010, is an annual international competition for student social entrepreneurship. During the Campus Competition at Hokkaido University, 15 teams comprised of 56 students presented their business ideas that would solve refugee related issues around the world. Some teams suggested the use of smartphone applications by which refugees could study languages and search for jobs worldwide while other teams suggested farming at the refugee camps. After each presentation, questions and comments were given by the judges who later evaluated all the presentations to select the winner.
The wining team presented an idea which aims to encourage people to invest money for the refugees. They plan to set up a crowd-funding scheme which collects money from the public and distributes the capital to NPOs and NGOs that support refugees in various ways, such as securing jobs for them. An unique aspect of their plan is that the resettled refugees would over time pay back the costs to the funders as a pension. Yuki Fukuoka, one of the team members and an undergrad student in Law School, reflected on the matter: “Due to the large influx of refugees to Europe, they are often seen as a problem in the countries accepting them, rather than an asset to society. We want to align the personal interests of host citizens and refugees because we believe that’s the only robust and long-lasting solution. Ultimately, we want to help create a welcoming atmosphere towards refugees who seek better lives”.
The wining team will go on to the regional competition which will be held in March 2017 in San Francisco, Boston and other locations. The winners of the regional competition will attend the final competition in September in New York. When asked about his thoughts on advancing to the next level of the competition, Yuki Fukuoka commented: “We are very excited to meet our competitors from around the world and learn their ideas”. Takeshi Murakami, an undergrad student of our Medical School who headed the organizing committee of the Campus Competition added: “We will do our best to support the wining team through fund-raising and by providing training sessions to prepare for the regional competition”. The Campus Competition was also supported by Hokkaido University’s International Human Resource Development Program (I-HoP).