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Alliance Social Enterprise Challenge: Julien Hédou (X2015) tied for second place

Part of the Columbia Venture Competition, the final round of the 2021 Alliance Social Enterprise Challenge, took place on April 7th. The finalists pitched their social ventures to the jury. Representing l'X, Julien Hédou (X2015) was awarded second place for the social enterprise Surge2Surgery, tied with the finalist representing Columbia University.


Screenshot of the jury and the finalists - 2021Alliance Social Enterprise Challenge

To support new or existing ventures aimed at improving the common good, the Alliance Program has launched the Alliance Social Enterprise Challenge (ASEC), partnering with the Columbia Venture Competition.

Open to teams of students and recent graduates from the Alliance Program partner universities (Columbia University, École Polytechnique, Sciences Po, and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), the ASEC took place for the first time this year. A wide array of social enterprise models were considered within many different domains such as social justice, education, public health, or solutions to help limit climate change.

The finalists: Four ambitious social endeavors

Each university’s preliminary rounds (March 2021) had determined the finalists who would represent each institution in the final round of the competition. During the preliminary round at École Polytechnique, the social venture Surge2Surgery, submitted by Julien Hédou, a graduate of the X2015 class of the Cycle Ingénieur Polytechnicien program, had been selected.

The final round, moderated by Chris McGarry, Senior Director, Columbia Entrepreneurship, occurred on April 7th in virtual format. The finalists had to pitch their enterprises, presenting the concept and anticipated impact of their social ventures as well as their business operations’ viability. Each finalist had six minutes to pitch to the jury, followed by another short six-minute session to answer the judges’ questions.


Screenshot of the final round showing Julien Hédou, Co-founder &CEO of Surge2Surgery during the pitch

Representing École Polytechnique, Julien Hédou pitched Surge2Surgery, the social venture he co-founded to enable precision medicine before surgery. Building on their recent immune monitoring studies in patients undergoing surgery, Surge2Surgery developed an immunological model using a proprietary machine-learning algorithm, that predicts post-operative infections with higher accuracy than existing surgical risk assessment tools. The Surge2Surgery machine learning algorithm integrates the single-cell assessment of a patient's immune system before surgery with clinical data available through their Electronic Health Records (EHR). Surge2Surgery's predictive tool integrates seamlessly with preoperative health optimization protocols that improve surgical outcomes. As preoperative clinical interventions are known to reduce surgical complications by more than a third, Surge2Surgery will significantly help prevent surgical complications by identifying at-risk patients before surgery at the individual level.

Surge2Surgery tied for second place alongside Omao, representing Columbia University. This social enterprise brings biodegradable straws to the market. The two ventures, Surge2Surgery and Omao, have each been awarded a prize of $7,500.

The winner of the 2021 Alliance Social Enterprise Challenge is Tēnaka, the finalist representing Sciences Po. Working to regenerate the ocean through tailor-made Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs for corporations willing to shift to regenerative businesses, Tēnaka has been awarded the first prize of $25,000.

The third prize of $5,000 was awarded to the finalist representing Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne: Imece, aiming to empower refugee women in Turkey via the manufacturing and sale of the Energy for Everyone (EFE) solar device.

Five criteria

The social enterprises were assessed by the ASEC competition jury across five core criteria: the anticipated impact and contribution to the common good, the project's viability and market fit, a well-thought-out concept and implementation strategy, a compelling presentation and mastery of facts, and the originality of the idea.

The Alliance Program is an innovative partnership between Columbia University, École Polytechnique, Sciences Po, and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. For the past 19 years, the partner universities have been working with faculty and students to create new collaborations through joint research, doctoral mobility, dual degrees, and visiting professorships.

Further information