The 2023 Hult Prize Challenge is now open for applications to create a for-profit social venture, in the fashion/clothing industry.
- Every year, one team receives $1M USD in funding to make their idea a reality.
Today’s apparel industry is not sustainable. Every stage of its value chain is harmful to both people and the planet. Fashion is the world’s second-most polluting industry, after oil. Much of its ecosystem is troubled by inhumane working conditions and ineffective social protections. Everybody must act now, before it’s too late.
- Step 1: Align with one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- In 2015, all United Nations member states adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. At its heart are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that provide a shared vision of peace and prosperity for people and the planet. The six SDGs below are particularly relevant to creating a more sustainable fashion industry, post-pandemic.
- Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
- Clean Water & Sanitation: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
- Decent Work & Economic Growth: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
- Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
- Responsible Consumption & Production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
- Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
- Step 2: Choose an area of impact in the fashion industry’s value chain that you feel passionate about.
- To be truly sustainable, the fashion industry must value people over growth. It must embrace stakeholder capitalism* by empowering workers in the decision-making process and redistributing and reinvesting profits more equitably. It must offset any job loss caused by technological innovation with strategic job creation. It must also insist on sustainability reporting as a factor for corporate valuation and investment. There are exciting opportunities in every stage of fashion’s value chain.
- Sourcing: Textiles & Raw Materials.
- Manufacturing: Garments & Footware.
- Distribution: Wholesale, Retail & Direct-to-Consumer.
- Marketing: Advertising, Packaging Display.
- Consumption: Purchase, Waste.
- Disposal: Garments & Packaging.
- Circularity: Reinvestment.
- Step 3: Build your team
- Create a team of between two and five students on your university campus who are as passionate as you are about this year’s Hult Prize Challenge. Be sure to apply by the deadline.
- Pro tip: If your idea supports members of a community—women of color, for example—be sure their voice is represented by a teammate.
- Step 4: Explore your idea with Design Thinking
- All successful businesses solve a problem. Immerse yourself in the problem, then brainstorm solutions as a team using Design Thinking, an innovative approach to problem-solving developed by Ideo based on human-centered design. Watch this video to learn more.
- Pro tip: Talk to your target market. Listen firsthand about the challenges they face day-to-day. Does your idea meet their real needs?
- Step 5: Develop your business plan
- Once you have an idea that has real potential, dig in to create your business with components such as minimum viable product, competitive differentiation, a go-to-market plan, financial projections and a business model. Watch this video on the Business Mode Canvas.
- Pro tip: A great idea is necessary but not sufficient! Learn to build all the components of the business plan that results in a financially attractive investment opportunity.
- Step 6: Create your pitch
- An amazing idea isn’t enough to get you to the finals. Your team will also need to carefully craft a persuasive presentation that will really wow the judges.
- Pro tip: Focus on the story, not the tech. Compelling pitches take us on a journey beyond the what to the why and how.
- Step 7: Compete!
- You’ll need to make it through three qualifying rounds to compete at the Finals in Paris for the $1million prize.
- Round 1: OnCampus [Year-round] Compete with other teams at your university, or apply independently through the General Application.
- Round 2: Summits [June and July] Campus Finalists choose one of multiple cities worldwide where they compete alongside other teams worldwide for a spot at their 4-week Global Accelerator program.
- Round 3: Global Accelerator [September] Semi-Finalists transform their business ideas into investment-ready social ventures with four intensive weeks of mentorship and preparation at a thrilling world-class destination.
- Round 4: Finals [September] Only a select few teams will be chosen as finalists to pitch their ideas before globally renowned judges in Paris.
- Must-haves for a winning idea Thousands of truly great ideas for social enterprises compete in the Hult Prize each year. Most don’t make it to the finals. Why? They lack the 360-degree solution their judges are looking for:
- Profit potential.
- Measurable impact.
The Hult Prize Competition is open to teams of minimum 3 or maximum 4 members who are currently full- or part-time undergraduate or graduate students enrolled at a higher education institution.
For more information, visit https://www.hultprize.org/2023-hult-prize-challenge/