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USD's First Hult Prize Contest Yields Two Winning Teams

Photo of Hult Prize winners. Nicole Detches, Ghofrane Baaziz (Hult Prize campus director and media & journalism major), Faith Ireland, Hailie Downs and Taylor Jones (pictured from left to right) are members of Together We Stand.

VERMILLION, S.D. – This spring, two groups of University of South Dakota students will pitch their ideas to address worldwide youth unemployment as part of the international Hult Prize competition.

Now in its 10th year, the annual Hult Prize competition aims to solve a pressing social problem by developing for-profit startup businesses that address the issue. This year’s challenge was to devise a venture that provides meaningful employment to 10,000 youth within the next decade. The Hult Prize is the world’s largest program to promote sustainable, innovative student business ideas.

In its first year participating in the Hult Prize competition, USD hosted a local event in December and a team of six local judges, including Department of Sustainability Chair Meghann Jarchow, selected the team Together We Stand to advance to the regional summit in Boston in March. The team will pitch their idea of producing and selling prosthetic devices for youth in developing countries. Earth Runners, the team that earned second place, participated in an online contest for runners-up and won a spot at the regional summit in San Francisco in March. Earth Runners proposes to employ 10,000 youth by promoting the sale of culturally significant artisan crafts made by young artists in developing countries.

Faith Ireland, a sustainability major who is in the 3+3 law school fast track program, is one of the four members of the Together We Stand team. She came up with their idea after talking to her mother, a massage therapist, who worked with an amputee patient.

“We are working with a 3D printing company and a prosthetics company to come up with an innovative way to make prosthetics for youth at 1/50th of the cost of a traditional device,” said Ireland.

Other members of Ireland's team include Nicole Detches (health sciences), Hallie Downs (biology and business double major) and Taylor Jones (psychology). Ireland said the process of researching, making business connections and presenting their idea has benefitted her and her teammates while they try to help others.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to develop an idea that can change the world,” she said.

Katie Brust, a biology and art double major, is one of the members of Earth Runners, along with Brigit Blote (biology), Amber Ellison (sustainability) and Ashlynn Atwood (health sciences). All are members of the USD cross country team.

“Our project is designed to help sell culturally significant works of art or pottery from developing countries,” Brust said. "Profits from purchases will return to the artists' communities."


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News