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Students triumph in global start-up competition

Team Fair Start
Pictured: The winning Aston students, Team Fair Start

11 December 2014

Aston students have advanced to the regional finals of the world’s largest student competition and start-up platform for social good. 

Competing at the UK quarter finals of the Hult Prize 2014, the Aston student team, ‘Team Fair Start’, triumphed and will now progress to the regional finals of the prestigious competition next March. 

The event, held at Aston Business School, was tagged ‘creative leaders, innovation solutions and impact that change the world’.  Participating teams were briefed to develop creative solutions and business plans to tackle this year’s challenge of improving early education in urban slums. The students’ were asked to develop solutions potentially capable of benefitting up to 10million children aged 0-6 years old by 2020.  Each team pitched their ideas and went through a Q&A session before a selected panel of judges encompassing academics, business representatives and social enterprise experts from Aston University, Verizon and the Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance. 

Team Fair Start, comprising of MSc students Austin Cornilles (Strategy and International Business), Cassia Ayres (Social Responsibility and Sustainability), Divya Jyoti (Social Responsibility and Sustainability) and BSc student Jack Gibbons (Marketing), chose to focus on improving access to education in deprived Brazilian Urban environments. Their plan incorporated a social return on investment (SROI) approach that aimed to provide educational advice and training services to caregivers, guardians and parents. Their inclusive solution also put forward a system that partners businesses and communities to foster a generation of future leaders. 

Judges commented that they were impressed with the extent of the team’s research and their detailed understanding of the problem (or challenge) as well as the country’s socioeconomic problems, looking at various strategies to help tackle different social needs. 

Esmer Chifiero, an MBA student and Campus Director of the Hult Prize at Aston University, said: “The Hult Prize Event is what I like to describe as ‘Motivating Beyond an Aspiration’. It gives people of all ages and background the chance to make a real, positive impact upon the lives of others around the world. Seeing the efforts of the participating teams and being able to encourage them to put their ideas forward was very satisfying and the best reward for organising the event at Aston. The students’’ enthusiasm, talents and determination was inspirational.” 

The Hult Prize, founded in partnership with former USA President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, is designed to act as a catalyst for social ventures that aim to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges. The competition is recognised by TIME Magazine as one of the top five ideas changing the world for the better. 

Following the regional finals, a winning team from each host city will move into a summer business incubator, where participants will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business.  

A final round of competition will be hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative at its annual meeting in September, where CGI delegates will select a winning team. The team will be presented their prize by Bill Clinton himself.  

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For further media information, please contact Jonathan Garbett, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4552 or j.garbett@aston.ac.uk.