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Crawford School students laid their plans for global food security on the table at this year's Hult Prize competition and gained partnerships that will enable their model to change the future.
The Hult Prize is the world's largest student competition. It aims to solve the planet's most pressing concerns. This years' Hult Prize challenge, personally selected by former USA President Bill Clinton, was themed around global food security.
The 2013 ANU team for the Hult Prize went to China for the competition’s regional final on 2 March. This year’s team members included Crawford School students Gil Francis Arevalo (Philippines), Shannon Bourke (Australia), Kathryn Hayward (New Zealand), Mahawira Singh Dillon (Indonesia), and Denise Anne Suarez (Philippines). Dr Paul D'Arcy from School of Culture, History & Language in ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, was the mentor and advisor for the team. Despite the fact that the team did not win, they still have the chance to make it to the New York finals through the support of online voting.
In China the team presented an innovative social enterprise model which utilised the potential of aquaponics. The team's proposal aimed to address issues relating to food insecurity, financial incapacity, limited social enterprise operations and opportunities through partnerships.
Although they were not outright winners, the team are on a high after successfully gaining new partners that can help them develop and implement their model.
“We went into the competition with three Aquaponic best practice companies around the world already agreeing to be partners with us – Haller Foundation based in UK but with a project in Nairobi, Kenya; Sweet Water Foundation based in Chicago but with a project in Mumbai and Mactan Aquaponics based in Cebu City Philippines but with a project in Manila,” said Arevalo.
Dr D’Arcy added, “We established new partners and networks in Shanghai that are highly related to our model including Original-Life Farming. The CEO of Original-Life Farming was present at the competition and came up to us afterwards and invited us to the company's Shanghai headquarters the next day to discuss partnership. We also formed valuable links with HULT Business School's Shanghai team, which also proposed an Aquaponics solution, and Fudan University in Shanghai, which hosted us for a day and is keen to work closely with ANU.”
These new partnerships will enable the ANU team's model to be put into use regardless of whether they win the competition.
“These prominent, industry best-practice partners mean we can still implement our initiative AquaFEAST (Aquaponics technology that delivers Fresh, Eco-Friendly, Accessible, Sustainable, and Tasty food for the urban slums) even beyond the competition,” said D’Arcy
While the team have not yet made it into the finals with their model, they are still in there with a chance.
“We still have the chance to make it to the finals in the next round which is based online voting across the world in response to videos about our proposed solution,” said Arevalo.