Campus startups seek to provide jobs for 10,000 youths

Sleaner won the first prize in this year’s Hult Prize Campus Final Competition held in Shenzhen. Their project involves recycling marine waste into wearable commodities. Photo: CUHKSZ
Sleaner won the first prize in this year’s Hult Prize Campus Final Competition held in Shenzhen. Their project involves recycling marine waste into wearable commodities. Photo: CUHKSZ

Can you create a venture that provides 10,000 meaningful jobs for young people within the next decade?

This was the challenged presented to budding entrepreneurs during the Hult Prize Campus Final Competition at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Shenzhen on Nov. 17 to Dec. 2. Some 150 CUHKZ students participated in the competition, now on its third year, as part of the 14th Shenzhen Creative December.

The Hult Prize is a year-long competition that challenges college students to tackle pressing social topics related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s theme was “Apply Creativity Technology Design to Realize Youth Employment”.

One in five of the world’s youth is unemployed – neither engaged in formal education or undergoing training. Even young people who have the skills the market demands are often excluded from meaningful work. Against this backdrop, competing teams were asked to create sustainable, scalable, fast-growing impact enterprises that can provide opportunities for meaningful work for 10,000 young people within the next decade.

Participating startups from the university competed in the “On Campus” round,  then the Regional and Accelerator stages, before reaching the Nationals. The main prize was US$1 million in seed capital, which would be presented in an event at the United Nations headquarters in New York in September next year.

The three winning groups were Sleaner (recycling marine waste into wearable commodities); Vita Y (linking jobless youth with South Korean farms seeking young workers); and Elang Xpress (an Uber-like service for farmers in Indonesia).

Support organizations participating in the event included were Asia America MultiTechnology Association (AAMA) and the CUHK Business School Shenzhen Alumni Association.

The judges included Professor Michael Ferguson from CUHKSZ; Tong Xie, director of Decent Capital; Vincent Lai, head of China Institutional Client Coverage at UBS Asset Management; Sharon Gal Or, founder and global cultural ambassador at The Innovation Nations Games (TING); art and design educator Angela Sudanee Taekul; Dr. Bob Z. Chen, co-founder of Oxpecker Labs; and Jonathan Wong, honorary project director at CUHK center for entrepreneurship.

The Hult Prize is the world’s biggest engine for launching for-good, for-profit enterprises emerging from universities.

In nearly a decade, with over 2,500 staff and volunteers around the world, the movement has deployed more than US$50 million of capital into various sectors and mobilized more than one million young people to re-think the future of business as it continues to breed disruptive innovation on college and university campuses across 100-plus countries.

Solving Global Challenges Together

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The SDGs are part of the 2030 Agenda. The goals are broad and interdependent, yet each has a separate list of targets to achieve. Achieving all 169 targets would signal accomplishing all 17 goals. The SDGs cover social and economic development issues as described here.

What about Israel?

It’s time to take a step forward! Translate the goals into Hebrew, and integrate the 2030 agenda into organizations and educational institutions.

The State of Israel has undertaken to submit to the UN a progress report indicating the manner in which these targets were incorporated into Israel. This report is expected to be submitted to the UN in July 2019.

About the Author
Sharon Gal Or – Israeli Ambassador at U.S. Transhumanist Party. An Innovation, Sustainability & Leadership Management Strategist on creative education to government, non-profits, education, and arts bodies. Lectures in various international circles, leading and hosting training programs globally.