UT, Dell Recognize Nation’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs

Further proof that Austin is well on its way to becoming the next Silicon Valley: the Dell Social Innovation Challenge—a partnership between UT-Austin and tech giant Dell—concluded last week, awarding $50,000 to the brightest young entrepreneurs in the nation.

An initiative of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the Dell Social Innovation Challenge has recognized teams of undergrads and grad students and their social innovation projects since 2007. The challenge helps these projects progress by providing startup capital and mentors for the groups.

“Through innovation and action, young people are addressing the world’s most pressing human issues by turning their passion into real solutions,” says Suzi Sosa, associate director of the RGK Center, in a press release. “DSIC is on the leading edge of this effort; we bring together some of the world’s best and brightest students who are united by the common goal of social change.”

This year’s winner, Essmart Global, beat out more than 1,800 other entries from more than 105 countries. Ten of the groups were from UT. The Massachusetts duo—who accepted their $50,000 grand prize at a ceremony in Moody Theater last Tuesday—aims to give shop owners in rural India access to advanced technology that will help improve the lives of customers.

Essmart Global and four other finalists presented their ideas to a panel of judges, which included UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa. The challenge also presented 27 other awards at the ceremony, including more than $145,000 in cash prizes.

After last year’s challenge, UT announced that Dell had given a $5 million grant to help the competition expand and grow. The grant will be distributed over the next five years.

From using nanotechnology to better store vaccines to developing a high-tech e-learning system, learn more about the finalists’ projects here.

From left: Tom Meredith, civic leader and philanthropist; Diana Jue, Essmart Global; Jackie Stenson, Essmart Global; Trisa Thompson, vice president of corporate responsibility at Dell; Suzi Sosa, executive director of the challenge.

Photo by Brian Birzer.


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