Durham University students who want to use new technology incentives to help protect endangered species are hoping to secure a $1m prize to turn their idea into reality.

The students developed their idea for a challenge at Durham University Business School.

Masters in Business Administration (MBA) students were tasked with developing a business idea to address one or more of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Teams presented their ideas to a judging panel, which chose Swabir Abdulrehman, Shuang Hu, Shujie Wu and Yukan Zhao’s wildlife conservation social enterprise as the winner.

Mr Abdulrehman and Bronzie Kee, also a Durham MBA student, then took the idea forward to win the Durham University heat of the Hult Prize, a global enterprise competition, and have now been invited to participate in the 11th annual Hult Prize Regional Summit in Melbourne, Australia, in April.

If they progress one stage further, to the Global Finals in New York, USA, they will be competing for $1m-worth of start-up funding and business support.

Their idea involves equipping wildlife conservation organisations with new technology, technological know-how and funding.

They hope to provide a management model for using technology in conservation, linking conservation organisations to funding, making use of unemployed graduates in developing economies on a “skill for services” basis.

They would in turn provide technological expertise and run technological training programs, improving efficiency and technological sustainability for the organisations involved.

Mr Abdulrehman said: “WEnTech has one clear mission: to provide technological support to

“Our group was happy to be rewarded for the hard work that we put into developing the enterprise and we’re excited about its future application.”

Claire Rose, a member of the Durham MBA Innovation Award judging panel who also sponsored the award, said the competition had high-quality entries and the winning entry had the potential to increase in scale on several fronts.

Ms Rose, who holds an MBA from Durham University herself, is Director of thedevelopmentspace.com, which works in technology-led innovation and business growth.

She said the Durham MBA was well known for producing “capable, inclusive and deep-thinking individuals” and the competition had been a valuable opportunity to get students “thinking big” about sustainable solutions for global challenges.