A team of Griffith Business School students was one of three teams to represent the University at the regional stages of the 2016 Hult Prize Challenge, the largest student competition on the planet.

Made up of three social marketing researchers and a human resources postgraduate student, the group took its plan for economic growth in the slums of Sao Paolo to Shanghai in March where 50 teams from around the world competed for a place the final rounds of the prestigious competition.

“Although we didn’t win we got a great deal from this experience,” business student, David Schmidtke, said after the results were revealed.

Students worldwide were vying for the ultimate prize of $1 million start-up funding for a project that addresses the global challenge of crowded urban spaces.

“We had developed an income redistribution strategy with the aim of creating new revenue streams to improve quality of life among slum dwellers in Brazil,” David Schmidtke said.

“We wanted to set up industrial kitchens in or near the slums and deliver lunch-box style meals to companies in the city using new bicycle lanes that are part of emerging infrastructure in Sao Paolo.”

Clinton challenge

The Hult Prize Challenge, which is supported by former US President Bill Clinton, brings together the skills and talents of some of the world’s brightest business school students to address specific and measurable problems.

Over the years, winning teams have found innovative ways to improve nutrition, manage chronic disease, and to educate young children.

For 2016 Bill Clinton challenged students to come up with a social enterprise that addresses the needs of people living in crowded, impoverished urban spaces by building sustainable, scalable, and fast-growing businesses that can double the income of millions by better connecting them with goods, services, and access to capital.

“As social marketers, we are socially motivated,” David Schmidtke said. “There are not enough employment opportunities for the poorest people in the world, and we saw this as an opportunity to tackle poverty. With some training, we are confident that people living in Brazilian slums would be able to make basic, healthy meals for others.”

The Griffith team, which also includes Cuong Pham, Dan Langerud and Brazilian native, Patricia David, has already contacted a potential business partner in Sao Paulo.

Two other Griffith teams also presented their plans at March regionals in London and San Francisco, making Griffith University the only Australian University to be represented on three fronts at this stage of the competition.

In total, five regionals took place in March with 50 teams in competition at each location (also including Boston and Dubai). One team from each region progressed to an accelerator program round in Boston later in 2016.