Purdue team selected as regional finalist for prestigious Hult Prize

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Hult Prize team

The Purdue team, from left, of Dheeraj Gurugubelli, Isra Gadri, Iyad Uakoub, Sunil Merumu and Nikhil Boreddy brings together a passion for entrepreneurship with impact on its health-care business plan as a Hult Prize finalist. (Purdue University photo)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A team of Purdue University students competing for this year's Hult Prize and $1 million in startup capital was named a global regional finalist, participating in the upcoming event in Boston.

The Hult Prize brings together the brightest university students from around the globe to focus on solving one of the world's key social challenges. The 2014 topic, which is selected by former President Bill Clinton, is "Healthcare: Non-Communicable Disease in the Urban Slum."

Starting with more than 10,000 applicants, the competition is narrowed to 300 entrepreneurial teams who will pitch their startup business ideas on March 7-8 at any of the six regional finals locations: Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai and Sao Paulo.

Purdue's team members, who come from the Krannert School of Management and Department of Computer and Information Technology, include Iyad Yacoub, Dheeraj Gurugubelli, Nikhil Boreddy, Sunil Merumu and Isra Gadri.

They bring together a background with an array of experience. As a team, they have hands-on expertise in organizational development, human resources, data and information technology, marketing and supply chain.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, they are working toward a demand-driven solution, said team leader Iyad Yacoub, a Krannert alumnus. During the past few weeks, team members have immersed themselves in the issues surrounding health care and collaborated with experts to come up with an innovative, but realistic and feasible business plan.

 "Our ultimate goal is to develop solutions to decrease chronic diseases in the increasing slum population," said Gadri, a graduate student in the Department of Computer and Information Technology focusing on supply chain and finance. "This can happen through either innovation or improving on existing solutions that are effective, accessible and affordable."

Their various experiences and expertise combined with a focused, committed mindset, networking and believing and trusting in each other will enable the Purdue team to develop a specific sustainable solution, Gadri said.

Purdue's encouragement to develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills with an innovative mindset, accompanied by their own ambitious attitudes, motivated the team to compete in this competition, Yacoub said.

The team has continued to gain support from various departments and faculty on campus, working closely with Krannert's Suresh Chand, associate dean of graduate studies, and Tad Brinkerhoff, director of Professional Master's Programs.

If the team wins the Boston regional finals next month, they would receive a one-year membership into the Clinton Global Initiative and an opportunity to spend the summer at the Hult Prize Accelerator. The accelerator will provide the students with a chance to further develop their social enterprise while receiving mentorship from members of the international business community.

The regional champions will pitch their business solution prototype at the Clinton Global Institute's annual meeting in September. Global leaders will select the winning team, awarding them the Hult Prize and $1 million in seed capital.

For more information on Purdue's team, or if you would like to assist with their trip to Boston, contact team leader Iyad Yacoub, iyad@purdue.edu

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