Penn Undergraduates Finish Hult Prize Competition as Top Finalists

A team of five undergraduates from Penn recently returned from New York City after competing for the 2014 International Hult Prize, where the winning team received $1 million in seed capital, as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community.

Called "The Nobel Prize for students" by Nobel Laureate Mohammad Yunus, the annual competition for the Hult Prize aims to identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas: startup enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people. This year, 11,000 teams applied, making it the world's largest student competition for social good.

The Penn team, "Sweet Bites," is working to solve a global issue concerning non-communicable diseases in challenged urban areas, mainly the burden of oral disease and its complications. Theirs is a simple solution: xylitol-enhanced chewing gum. By employing local women to distribute the gum packaged with medical information, they hope to encourage female entrepreneurship, close the information gap around healthcare access, and improve the lives of millions suffering from preventable dental health problems. The company's idea is so ingenious that it was named No. 1 of "11 Simple Inventions That Could Change the World" by the Huffington Post.

Sweet Bites members Thoba Grenville-Grey (Philosophy, Politics, & Economics), Eric Kauderer-Abrams (Mathematics), Spencer Penn (Finance and OPIM and Robotics master's student), Morgan Snyder (DMD) and Josh Tycko (Biological Mathematics), won the regional competition for the Hult Prize in Boston against 45 other teams.

The top prize went to NanoHealth, a team from the Indian School of Business that envisioned a network of health workers equipped with an innovative diagnostic tool to provide on-the-go diagnosis and treatment for slum-dwellers.

The Sweet Bites team is continuing their campaign to improve oral health internationally with every chew and can be contacted at SweetBitesCo@gmail.com.

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