Canadian Business Founder is the Global Champion in EO’s 2023 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

23 June 2023

Out of 1,100 competitors worldwide, Dalhousie University graduate David Hodgson takes first prize in prestigious student entrepreneur awards.

23 June 2023, Cape Town, South Africa / Alexandria, VA: Following a year-long nomination, application and pitch process, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) has revealed the Global Champion in its annual Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) for 2023.

Announced during the finale of Start It Up, a YouTube series that has already earned more than one million views, the global champion is David Hodgson, founder of Hollo Medical, a medical device company that was launched to reduce the burden of chronic respiratory diseases. Hollo Medical created the "Bre-Z Chamber", a pocket-size inhaler device that enables portability and optimal drug deposition. Hodgson is a recent medical student graduate from Dalhousie University and his achievement in this highly competitive global contest has earned him a prize of US$50,000. Previously, his medical venture earned him a first prize at the Canadian finals of the 2023 Entrepreneurship World Cup, and secured his victory in the GSEA Canada national competition, allowing him to move on to global rounds.

GSEA is EO’s premier global competition for students who own and operate a business while attending college or university, and 2023 marks the 17th year that EO has hosted the awards. To qualify, candidates nominate their businesses through an open application process and compete against their peers worldwide in a series of local and national competitions. For the 2022-2023 competition, nearly 1,100 applications were received from students across 94 local EO chapters in 39 countries. Just 59 students made it to Global Quarter Finals, and 18 advanced to the competition’s semi-finals, which are featured in the four-part Start it Up series on YouTube. From those 18 young entrepreneurs, six moved on to become global finalists.

The runner up in the 2023 competition is Germany’s Gernot Sümmermann, founder of RefresherBoxx, a new eco-friendly way of washing textiles without water or chemicals. The second runner-up is Laura Perez, 23, from Colombia, founder of Koji Co, a food design and fermentation lab, which designs, prototypes and scales new food products using kōji-based fermentation. She was awarded US$15,000.

The three other finalists were:

  • Selen Señal, Turkey – 28, founder of ALGBIO, which treats industrial wastewater and flue gas with algae to produce carbon negative biofuels and bioplastics.
  • Sofia Taday, Ecuador – 29, founder of Allikay Food Tech, a company working with international biotechnology communities on the sustainable use of industrial and domestic organic waste.
  • Adolfo Martin Vidal Ruiz, Mexico – 22, founder of Celal-mex, a startup dedicated to the use of agricultural by-products for the sustainable production of cellulose, starch and other materials.

A unique aspect of EO’s judging process in these student awards is the weighting of scores: 70 percent of a judge’s score is based on each entrepreneur’s vision, grit and values, ahead of their actual businesses, while 30 percent is based on the business concept and strength.

In the final episode of ‘Start it Up’, Hodgson told the judges,: “I am incredibly humbled and grateful to be recognized as the winner of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. This achievement not only validates my hard work and dedication but also serves as a powerful reminder that young entrepreneurs have the potential to shape a better future.”

The global finals were held in Cape Town, South Africa, where the mini-series was recorded in May. Finalists presented their businesses to two rounds of judges. The final round of judges included last year’s global champion Nick Cotter of Ireland, eight-year EO Jordan member and business owner Abeer Qumsieh, and YouTube influencer and best-selling author Amy Landino.

 “Start it Up is such a vital example of what can happen when you bring innovative young business builders together with seasoned entrepreneurs. It’s a special kind of alchemy that catapults game-changing ideas to scalable solutions, and I am particularly impressed by the way this generation thinks. Each of the top six in this year’s competition is tackling real issues, from food sustainability to clean water. There is no shortage of inspirational stories here!”, said Tamarin Morrell, Programme Director for EO’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards:

The GSEA programme supports student entrepreneurs who require much-needed mentorship, recognition, and connections to take their businesses to the next level of success. Applications are now being accepted for the 2023-2024 competition and more can be found here.


David Hodgson, 2023 Global Champion, during the Start It Up season finale.




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About EO

Founded in 1987, EO is non-profit membership network of 18,000+ diverse business owners in 75+ countries that helps entrepreneurs unlock their full potential and move the world forward through life-enhancing connections, shared experiences, and experiential learning in a global peer community. For more information, visit:

About GSEA

Over the past 17 years, the Entrepreneur Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) has become the premier global competition for university students to gain mentorship, connection and visibility. GSEA was founded at the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University in 1998, and EO took on stewardship of the Awards in 2006. For more information visit:

GSEA 2023 by the numbers:

Nearly 1,100 total student applications were received from the following regions:

  • Asia Pacific (APAC) region: 61
  • North and South Asia: 389
  • Canada: 4
  • Europe: 110
  • Latin America: 145
  • Middle East, Pakistan and Africa (MEPA): 149
  • United States: 182
  • Other applications without a competition in their area: 59