The Million-Dollar-Start-up challenge: Constructor University’s students succeed in semi-finals
Team Hult Prize
With “The Fashion Particle”, Andrei Bancila, Iris-Stefania Petcu and Saleem Zafar (from left to right) have created a platform that promises to reduce the carbon footprint. (Source: Constructor University)

Making the world a better place by supporting sustainable start-ups: that’s what “The Hult Prize” Challenge is all about. Young people with innovative and sustainable start-up projects are competing for a one-million-dollar prize to fund their social venture. This year, the motto is “Redesigning Fashion.” The semifinals were held from June 16-18 in Tunis, Tunisia. Three students of Constructor University in Bremen succeeded with their pitch in the semifinals, presenting their innovative idea to revolutionize the fashion industry.

Each year, The Hult Prize challenges young entrepreneurs to solve the world’s most pressing problems with innovative and sustainable ideas. The winning team will secure a one million USD funding for their social venture. This year, the focus is on the Fashion Industry and how to make it more sustainable with the motto “Redesigning Fashion”.  

Students from over 120 countries participated in the early stages of the challenge, with more than 20.000 teams applying. The semifinals, held from June 16 to 18, brought the participants one step closer to the coveted 1,000,000 USD funding. In Tunis, Tunisia, and other cities worldwide, the semifinalists pitched their ideas to a panel of experts. Only 25 teams earned a spot in the next phase, the Global Accelerator, with just seven teams eventually reaching the finals. The competition is fierce as all teams strove to make their mark and secure their visionary futures.

Three passionate entrepreneurs and students at Constructor University in Bremen entered the semifinals with their start-up “The Fashion Particle” to revolutionize the fashion industry with their innovative, sustainable and out-of-the-box concept – completely blowing away the jury. Iris-Stefania Petcu (Co-founder and CEO), Andrei Bancila (Co-founder and CTO) and Saleem Zafar (Co-founder and CRO) designed a solution that promises to make a significant impact on reducing carbon footprints, by leveraging creative problem-solving: "The Fashion Particle” is empowering sustainable fashion through a centralized marketplace connecting socially and environmentally conscious suppliers with manufacturers.

The team credits Constructor University for creating a supportive environment on campus that nurtures entrepreneurship. The university provides a buzzing entrepreneurial culture, offering countless ways to support students and their entrepreneurial spirit, bringing their start-up ideas to life. With close ties to the City of Bremen, which promotes and nurtures start-up culture through its broad network and support system, the university has become a great place for upcoming young talents in the start-up world.

Team Hult Prize

To highlight the numerous opportunities for students to realize their own start-up ideas in Bremen and on campus, Iris and Andrei also held a workshop on Sunday, June 18, in Tunis, Tunisia. The workshop for Tunisian students was part of the Constructor University roadshow. The roadshow takes representatives of the university to numerous countries around the globe to reach young talents and inform them about the courses offered at Constructor University in Bremen, Germany.

Image:  Andrei and Iris are pitching their start-up idea during the semifinals of the Hult prize challenge in Tunisia, blowing the jury’s minds with their concept. (Source: Constructor University)


Iris’, Andrei’s and Saleem’s journey wouldn't have been possible without the supportive environment at Constructor University. The university's emphasis on entrepreneurship has encouraged them to dream big and pursue their vision.

As the team prepares for the next stage of the competition, their anticipation grows, fueled by the opportunity to refine their innovative idea and present it to a distinguished panel of judges. With their sights set on the finals, Iris, Saleem, and Andrei are determined to leave an indelible mark and contribute to the sustainable development of the fashion industry in Bremen, Germany, and beyond.

"We've already established ourselves as a rapidly growing startup, having successfully onboarded 14 talented student members, along with an impressive network of mentors and support from 13 esteemed companies and institutions," Iris enthusiastically shared. "Encouraged by this momentum, we are determined to turn our dreams into reality, driving sustainable development and making our mark on the world."



About Constructor University:
An international community, vibrant and diverse. Offering academic excellence, ensuring the highest standards in research and teaching. Empowering students to solve the world's pressing challenges through knowledge and science: Constructor University is a top-ranked, English-speaking, private university. Founded in 2001, it provides a wide range of 25+ academic programs and PhD. The Constructor ecosystem comprises the University, located in Bremen, Germany, and an institute in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
Over 1.800 students from more than 110 nations on campus benefit from a unique interdisciplinary, foundational theoretical and practical education. Enriched with a buzzing entrepreneurial culture that prepares young professionals to thrive in the job market. With 6.000+ alumni worldwide, our community keeps growing – with our highest cohort ever registered in 2022.
The research-centric faculty projects are funded by the German Research Foundation and the European Union's Framework Program for Research and Innovation as well as by globally leading companies.
The Constructor ecosystem benefits from partnerships with high-ranked universities such as Carnegie Mellon, the University of Geneva or the National University of Singapore School of Computing, and technology companies such as Anisoprint, JetBrains and ChemDiv.

Constructor is a global institution dedicated to addressing the main challenges of the world through science, education, and technology. Apart from the University in Bremen, the ecosystem comprises an Institute in Schaffhausen (Switzerland) and several for-profit entities that provide technology infrastructures and solutions, life-long education programs, consulting services, and funding.

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