NTU team competes in Hult Prize Challenge for startup fund prize

09/08/2021 12:17 PM
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Joyce Chen (陳敏而). Courtesy of Joyce Chen
Joyce Chen (陳敏而). Courtesy of Joyce Chen

San Francisco, Sept. 7 (CNA) A team from National Taiwan University (NTU) is among 30 teams around the world currently competing in this year's Hult Prize Challenge in the United Kingdom, with the possibility of winning a startup fund of US$1 million.

The team titled "interWellness," consisting of NTU students Joyce Chen (陳敏而), Sandy Tsai (蔡岑珊) and Lin Fang-ju (林芳如), won the regional challenge in April to represent Taiwan at this year's Challenge.

Known as the "Nobel Prize for students," the Hult Prize Challenge is an annual competition that crowd-sources ideas from university level students to solve a pressing social issue.

The theme for this year's challenge is "Food for Good." The goal is to create jobs, stimulate economies, re-imagine supply chains and improve outcomes for 10 million people by 2030, according to its organizers.

Speaking to CNA during a recent interview, Chen, a second-generation Taiwanese-American, said the team is using the challenge as an important learning opportunity and to do things that are "meaningful and impactful" for the world.

According to Chen, "interWellness" is a platform that offers diet-friendly meals to chronic kidney disease patients with the help of nutritionists and chefs.

After repeatedly amending their business model, Chen said the team has registered "interWellness" as a company in Taipei and opened for business a week ago.

The team is one of 30 that qualified to participate in the 2021 Hult Prize out of 30,000 teams worldwide that took the Challenge.

The 30 teams are currently undergoing a five-week Global Accelerator program in the U.K.

Only six will be selected following the conclusion of the five-week program to move on to the Challenge finals, with the winning team receiving a US$1 million seed capital grant.

Chen told CNA that during the five-week Global Accelerator, all 30 teams from around the globe stayed at a English castle arranged by the Hult Prize Foundation.

In addition to getting ready for the challenge, the team has also prepared trademark Taiwanese snacks -- pineapple cakes and cream- filled puffs -- to give to other teams and promote Taiwan culture, Chen said.

From the left, Sandy Tsai (蔡岑珊) ,Joyce Chen (陳敏而), and Lin Fang-ju (林芳如). Courtesy of Joyce Chen
From the left, Sandy Tsai (蔡岑珊) ,Joyce Chen (陳敏而), and Lin Fang-ju (林芳如). Courtesy of Joyce Chen

Born and raised in Fremont, San Francisco to Taiwanese parents, Chen said she returned to Taiwan to study at NTU four years ago, adding that the decision is "one of the best decisions I ever made," as well as improving her Chinese language skills.

"Now I can read books in Chinese and be closer to my friends and relatives in Taiwan," she said.

Whether the team wins the Hult Prize Challenge or not, Chen said she will stay in Taiwan to continue her dream and start her own business.

(By Chou Shih-hui and Joseph Yeh)

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