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Rice husk idea wins Clinton challenge at IIT

Model highlighting the potential of producing furniture and a pen’s plastic body from rice husk wins Hult Prize

Subhankar Chowdhury Kharagpur Published 28.10.18, 09:23 PM
The members of team Metal with the panel of judges at IIT Kharagpur on Sunday.

The members of team Metal with the panel of judges at IIT Kharagpur on Sunday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

A model highlighting the potential of producing furniture and a pen’s plastic body from rice husk was adjudged the Hult Prize 2018 champion at the IIT Kharagpur on Sunday.

The Hult Prize, in association with The Telegraph, is an annual competition that collates idea from students after challenging them to solve a pressing social issue revolving around topics such as food security, water access, energy, environment and education.


At the two-day event that started on Saturday, more than 50 teams from IIT Kharagpur vied for the top spot with their start-up ideas on social enterprise before a panel of six judges.

Former US president Bill Clinton selects the challenge topic and announces the winner every September.

Team Metal, comprising four IIT students, topped the list with their sustainable model that is expected to create a social enterprise impacting the lives of tens of thousands of people, the judges said.

The Hult Prize named after the international business school that has campuses in London and San Francisco collates ideas through which budding entrepreneurs strive to create social enterprises that would impact the lives of 10 million people by 2025.

The panel scanned six models before selecting the one by Metal.

India is a leading paddy producing country and if stuff like pen, furniture, pitch board and kitchenware can be produced on a large scale from rice husk, it could reduce the problem of plastic consumption, Harshit Garg, member of Metal and a student of the five-year integrated geo physics and geology course, said.

“We are pouring adhesive and chemical in the rice husk to produce a roll of sheet. That sheet can be used to produce the body of ball pen, kitchenware and pitch boards,” Garg said.

The team has developed the prototype and has two third-year students of chemical engineering department providing them with technical support.

China uses rice husk to produce the plastic tiffin boxes.

When the judges sought to know what was the job prospect of their model, Shivendra Gautam, another team member said, the assembly line could generate tens of thousands of jobs.

Team Tillager’s model focusing on creating a direct supply chain between farmers and retailers curtailing the role of middlemen stood second.

Sandeep Kumar, associate partner, Mckinsey and Company, who was one of the judges, said the event stood out as the participants came up with models with an innovative approach and sought to take care of challenges facing the society.

Vinod Sood, MD, Hughes Systique Corporation, another judge said the event stood out because the students came up out-of-the-box and diverse ideas.

Nancy Charaya, COO, Anthill Creations and a Tedx speaker, said: “There was a social angle to each presentation and that was commendable.”

Team Metal will represent IIT Kharagpur at the regional round in March 2019, Harsh Goyel, IIT campus director for the Hult Prize, said.

The regional round will be held in several places, including in London and Boston.

The winning team at the world final in September 2019 at the United Nations will get a seed capital of $1 million in collaboration with the Bill Clinton Foundation to sustainably solve the world’s most critical social challenges.

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