Okayama University


4 Okayama University SDGs Ambassadors Successfully Oversee the First “Hult Prize Okayama University Competition” – The Business Contest Solving Global Issues

December 22, 2020

On December 13, the Hult Prize Okayama University Competition (on-campus qualifying round) for the international business contest was held at the 50th Anniversary Hall. The Hult Prize Okayama University Competition was planned and overseen by 4 SDGs ambassador students; namely, NISHIMOTO Mitsuki (4th year, Faculty of Economics), SAWAYAMA Yukiya (3rd year, Faculty of Economics), OKAMOTO Shin (3rd year, Faculty of Economics) and OHNO Sakura (3rd year, Faculty of Science).

The Hult Prize is the largest international student contest that invites teams of undergraduate and graduate students to present viable business ideas that can help achieve the SDGs. Held in collaboration with the UN, the competition gives finalists the chance to compete for 1 million US dollars (About one hundred million yen) to launch their proposed enterprise. Over a million students from 121 countries have taken part in the competition to date. The theme for this year’s competition is “Food for Good ~transforming food into a vehicle for change~.” Students are challenged to come up with a business plan that addresses the failures in our food system at a fundamental level and that helps build a sustainable society.

It is the first time that an on-campus qualifying round for the Hult Prize has been held at Okayama University. In total, 7 groups consisting of 24 people competed on-stage, presenting their carefully-thought-out business plans in English. Including audience members present at the auditorium and viewers watching the online broadcast, approximately 40 spectators attended the event.

7 groups explored various ideas, ranging from rethinking livestock fertilizer in Thailand to resolving food waste in developing countries. After deliberation by a panel of 4 judges, “Oaternative” ranked 1st. Their business model proposed the manufacture, processing, and sale of oat milk in Japan. Oat milk is not only rich in dietary fiber, but it also has less environmental impact than cow’s milk. During the Q&A section of the competition, the team were able to convey its feasibility to judges, showing not only that they had an attractive concept, but that they had also considered their business model from multiple perspectives. Judges rated the plan highly for its feasibility and likelihood to be profitable in the medium to long term.

Team “Mooshi” ranked 2nd with their proposal to use Hermetia illucens as feed for livestock, providing a low-cost feed with high nutritional value. Team “LEL” ranked 3rd with their business plan to utilize food that is nearing its expiry date. Both teams were commended for their excellent and innovative ideas.

Looking back on her experience leading up to the on-campus qualifying round and commenting on her team’s brilliant results, Sonava Tadao (2nd year, Discovery Program for Global Learners(GDP)) said, “This competition has been a wonderful opportunity to think about not only the future of Japan or Asia, but the future of the whole world and to proactively contribute to that future.” Her team member Alyana Morales (2nd year, GDP) added, “It was a very rewarding experience to cooperate as a team and come up with a business plan based on multiple discussions. I hope to continue researching and learning from numerous people so that we can improve our business model.”

A contestant who was not ranked in the top 3 added, “Thanks to the Hult Prize, I was able to meet various people from Okayama University and interacted not only with my group members, but also members from other groups through the workshops. I hope that this experience will serve as an opportunity to keep encouraging each other to learn about the SDGs and business.”

“Oaternative” will represent Okayama University at regional qualifying rounds in major cities around the world such as Tokyo and Singapore during the months of March and April 2021.

【Hult Prize Okayama University Competition Results】

<1st place> Oaternative
Alyana Morales(2nd year, GDP)
Sonava Tadao(2nd year, GDP)
TOYAMA Narumi(2nd year, Graudate School of Education)
OKAMOTO Shin(3rd year, Faculty of Economics)

<2nd place> Mooshi
MIWA Takuma(2nd year, Faculty of Engineering)
ARISAWA Kana(2nd year, Faculty of Letters)
Mahasawin Sikaras(2nd year, Faculty of Science)

<3rd place> LEL
MIYAMOTO Ayuha(3rd year, Faculty of Law)
KYI KYI THAR (2nd year MA, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences)
Guo Ke (2nd year, Faculty of Letters)

Organized by:Okayama University SDGs Ambassadors Students Planning and Overseeing
NISHIMOTO Mitsuki (4th year, Faculty of Economics)
SAWAYAMA Yukiya (3rd year, Faculty of Economics)
OKAMOTO Shin (3rd year, Faculty of Economics)
OHNO Sakura (3rd year, Faculty of Science)
Sponsored by:Okayama University-Ceed、L-Café、Okayama University Open Innovation Organization