Campus & Community

Initiatives showcase solutions to world problems

Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge finalists pose for group photo.

Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge finalists for 2024.

Photo by Aaron James

7 min read

President’s Innovation Challenge finalists announced, will vie for share of $515,000 in funding

Designing new medical devices for trauma surgeons, using AI to diagnose plant health, and developing financial technology to help small businesses in Africa, are a few of the many extraordinary initiatives that have been recognized as finalists in the 2024 Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge.

The President’s Innovation Challenge is an annual competition for students and select alumni pursuing ventures that push boundaries in their fields. 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. Ventures receive support from the Harvard Innovation Labs, working toward the President’s Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony on May 1.

“Each year, the President’s Innovation Challenge shines a light on the outstanding efforts of students and alumni who are committed to improving the world,” said Harvard University interim President Alan Garber. “The range of their work is a powerful reminder of the many strengths that exist across the University. I’m eager to hear from our finalists in May — and to follow their progress in the years to come.”

Hundreds of judges evaluated President’s Innovation Challenge applications and pitches to determine the finalists. During the May 1 President’s Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony at Klarman Hall, finalists will pitch their ventures to a global audience. Between in-person attendees and viewers of the livestream, more than 3,000 people watched the 2023 event.

“The range of their work is a powerful reminder of the many strengths that exist across the University.”

Alan Garber, interim Harvard president

Five ventures will receive grand prizes of $75,000, while five others will receive $25,000. The President’s Innovation Challenge also will award $15,000 in Ingenuity Awards to students with ideas that could be world-changing, even if they are not yet fully formed ventures.

“In 2024, the Harvard Innovation Labs reached a significant milestone: More than 5,000 ventures received support from our university innovation center since we opened our doors in the fall of 2011,” said Matt Segneri, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Executive Director of the Harvard Innovation Labs. “The President’s Innovation Challenge finalists represent some of the most promising entrepreneurs across the University, and we’d like to congratulate these teams on all of their innovation and impact thus far.”

This year’s 25 President’s Innovation Challenge finalists and 10 Ingenuity Award finalists represent 12 Harvard Schools. These ventures include:

Health and Life Sciences

Cellforma (Harvard Medical School): Overcoming the unmet need for donor lungs by creating life-saving regenerative cell therapies.

EndoShunt Medical Inc. (Harvard Business School, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences): Developing an endovascular surgical device for trauma surgeons focused on preventing death from abdominal bleeding.

MabLab (Harvard College): Designing five-in-one rapid test strips to detect the five deadliest lacing agents in recreational drugs. 

Modulate Bio (Harvard Business School): Advancing next-generation therapies to treat central nervous system disorders, starting with essential tremor.

Neumind Ltd (Harvard Business School, Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences): Digitizing neurorehabilitation for enhanced patient access, seamless caregiver involvement, and improved clinician overview.


Crop Diagnostix (Harvard Business School): Using AI-powered genetic insights to diagnose plant health, enabling farmers to optimize inputs and maximize yield.

Hometeam (Harvard Business School): Enabling family and paid caregivers to deliver the best care possible, as efficiently as possible.

MesaQuantum (Harvard Business School, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences): Developing highly accurate and precise chip-scale clocks using quantum sensing technology. (Harvard Medical School): Employing AI to craft tailored learning experiences for learners in educational institutions and corporate training programs.

Vocadian (Harvard Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences): Providing predictive fatigue risk management to empower a safer, healthier, and more productive workforce with evidence-based voice AI.

Social Impact

Mai Soli Foundation (Harvard Graduate School of Education): Using education and entrepreneurship to prevent child marriage for at-risk young girls in Bangladesh.

Saturday Art Class (Harvard Graduate School of Education): Helping underserved children in India to develop social-emotional learning and 21st-century skills through visual arts.

Solara (Harvard Business School): Providing an on-demand solar irrigation service to Indian farmers, increasing their access to affordable, reliable, and clean irrigation.

Trans Health HQ (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health): Creating a single source of truth for clinicians on how to provide quality gender-affirming care and safely advocate for transgender patients.

UMA Peru (Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School): Helping female artisans break free from the poverty trap by enhancing leadership skills and providing access to markets.

Alumni and Affiliates: Health and Life Sciences

Bullseye Biosciences (Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences): Transforming therapeutic protein design to expedite the development of life-saving medicines.

Ilios Therapeutics (Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School): Developing multi-target molecules to counter neurodegenerative diseases.

Promakhos Therapeutics (Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Medical School): Focusing on local and controlled modulation of the immune system to restore homeostasis. (Harvard Medical School): Developing drugs for previously inaccessible diseases with an AI-powered platform for cell replacement therapy.

Stratagen Bio (Harvard Business School): Transforming MRI scans into a tool for objective clinical decision-making and quantitative biomarker assessment. 

Alumni and Affiliates: Open

Beaver Health (Harvard College): AI-enabled assistive technologies to improve the health and well-being of older adults and their caregivers.

ELISA (Harvard Business School): The first end-to-end producer and distributor of fresh children’s food in Latin America.

IAMBIC (Harvard College): A next-gen shoe brand that custom-fits sneakers using AI, IAMBIC is dedicated to making shoes size-inclusive.

Neuronspike Technologies (Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences): Developing efficient generative artificial intelligence for automating business operations, where customers will have their own private model just for them.

TecHustle (Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Law School): Helping African small businesses send and receive trade-related payments through the AFi payments platform.

Ingenuity Award Finalists

Alba (Harvard Graduate School of Design): Developing and distributing menstrual products that empower those who are blind or visually impaired to detect the onset of their period.

Alcoved (Harvard Kennedy School): Helping aspiring first-time homebuyers qualify for homes through the development of accessory dwelling units.

AvidFirst (Harvard Extension School): Providing financial solutions designed to enhance wealth and health access for people with disabilities, without compromising their benefits.

MicroAvionics (Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences): Building ultra-lightweight atmospheric sensing devices that can self-levitate indefinitely in Earth’s and Mars’s atmospheres without any moving parts.

PALM Care (Harvard Business School): A remote monitoring technology platform that helps family members care for loved ones with dementia.

PerioSense (Harvard School of Dental Medicine): An automated periodontal probe that calculates probing depth with reproducible accuracy and makes dental periodontal charting more efficient.

PoGu (Harvard Graduate School of Education): Enabling people who are not tech-savvy or who have a disability to use their computer immediately – without further training or prior knowledge.

reer (Harvard Graduate School of Design): Creating furniture that is renewable, recyclable, and reusable, utilizing large-scale robotic printing with recycled materials.

RhinUS (Harvard Medical School): A medical device designed to treat the root cause of bacterial chronic rhinosinusitis, eliminating sinus pain and congestion.

Sprxng (Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences): Revolutionizing menstrual care through innovative products and therapies.