Reimagining how depression is assessed and treated, exploring business applications of generative AI, and developing a novel decarbonization solution, are just a few of the 25 ideas that have been selected as 2023 President’s Innovation Challenge Finalists.
The President’s Innovation Challenge is an annual competition where Harvard students and select alumni propel their entrepreneurial projects forward. Participants vie for a share of $515,000 in non-dilutive funding, made possible by a gift from the Bertarelli Foundation, co-founded by Ernesto Bertarelli, M.B.A. ’93. Beginning in the fall semester, ventures receive support from the Harvard Innovation Labs, working toward the President’s Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony on May 3.
“Throughout my presidency, I have had the pleasure of observing the creative and collaborative spirit of our community through the President’s Innovation Challenge,” said Harvard University President Larry Bacow. “Hearing the finalists’ pitches during the awards ceremony is inspiring. I have welcomed the opportunity to learn about the extraordinary effort our faculty and staff devote to nurturing the next generation of innovators at Harvard.”
A panel of more than 300 judges evaluated President’s Innovation Challenge applications to determine the finalists. In May, five ventures will win prizes of $75,000 and five will receive $25,000. Additionally, the President’s Innovation Challenge awards $15,000 in Ingenuity prizes to teams advancing ideas with the potential to be world-changing, even if they are not yet fully formed ventures.
“The Harvard Innovation Labs continues to see record engagement, with more than 1,300 students forming nearly 700 ventures during the spring semester,” said Matt Segneri, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Executive Director of the Harvard Innovation Labs. “The 25 finalists in this year’s President’s Innovation Challenge are a reflection of the extraordinary breadth of creativity and entrepreneurship we see every day at the Harvard Innovation Labs.”
This year’s 25 President’s Innovation Challenge finalists feature ventures from 11 Harvard Schools, across five tracks.
Health & Life Sciences
- BonePixel (Harvard Medical School): Building a data-driven approach for joint injury diagnosis and treatment planning.
- DoriVac (Harvard Business School): Developing novel cancer treatments using DNA nanotechnology.
- InConfidence (Harvard Medical School): Treating urinary incontinence and overactive bladder with smart patch technology.
- Kiikter (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health): Improving children’s nutrition and reducing anemia with a low-cost snack fortified with key micronutrients.
- PeriPeach (Harvard Medical School): Designing a medical device that protects the pelvic floor during childbirth.
- Buildoly (Harvard Graduate School of Design): Helping homeowners plan, design, and build their renovation projects.
- DeepInsights (Harvard Business School): Making meetings more efficient and productive through a meeting intelligence platform.
- Oban Market (Harvard College): Providing microfinance borrowers in Nigeria with a loan marketplace and education platform.
- Penguin.ai (Harvard Business School): Helping creative and marketing teams generate visual assets, such as images and videos, using generative AI models.
- Stochastic (Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science): Enabling access to the most difficult AI models for enterprises.
- Body Empowerment Project (Harvard Medical School): Decreasing eating disorder risk through a 10-week, evidence-based prevention program for middle and high school students.
- Civic Roundtable (Harvard Business School): Building a collaboration platform for the millions of public servants on the frontlines of state and local government.
- Inqui-Lab Foundation (Harvard Graduate School of Education): Nurturing problem-solving capacity among first-generation learners.
- Melanin Doc (Harvard Business School): Supporting minority students interested in medicine with scholarships and mentorship opportunities.
- RockFix (Harvard Kennedy School): Helping the critical minerals industry decarbonize and increase operational safety through rock mineralization.
Alumni & Affiliates: Health & Life Sciences
- Aperture Bio (Harvard Business School): Commercializing an analysis technology for serial tumor immunoprofiling.
- Brainify.AI (Harvard Extension School): Designing a biomarker platform to improve the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of depression.
- InGel Therapeutics (Harvard Medical School): Leveraging stem cell and tissue engineering to rescue and restore vision for blind patients.
- Interon Laboratories, Inc. (Harvard Business School): Developing a new category of immunotherapy — neuro-immunotherapy — which brings together neurobiology and immunology.
- Promakhos Therapeutics Inc. (Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences): Focusing on local and controlled modulation of the immune system to restore homeostasis.
Alumni & Affiliates: Open
- Mineral Forecast (Harvard Kennedy School): Designing a drill hole targeting solution that dramatically improves drilling success for mining exploration teams.
- Moonstar.ai (Harvard Kennedy School): Improving employee retention and engagement via an integrated mobile app.
- Patient First.ai (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health): Creating a digital health card to address all of a patient’s healthcare needs.
- Soteri Skin (Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences): Making skincare and over-the-counter products for atopic dermatitis (eczema).
- Thermaband (Harvard Law School): Providing immediate preemptive hot flash relief with a smart bracelet and personalized digital insights.