HBS stages finale of 19th annual New Venture Competition

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Food production and emergency phone calls may look very different in the near future thanks to the student grand prize winners announced at the 2015 Harvard Business School New Venture Competition (NVC) Finale, which took place April 22 before an enthusiastic audience in Burden Auditorium on the HBS campus.

RAPIDSOS plans to use technology to help revolutionize emergency response and communication, an idea that won them the Business Track’s $50,000 Dubilier Grand Prize. During his 90-second pitch, HBS student Michael Martin mentioned that each of the six team members, including Alex Santana, Joe DiPaolo, Nick Horelik, Kellen Brink, and Kaiying Liao, were driven by personal experiences with dropped 911 calls and hoped their innovation would eventually help save millions of lives each year by making the process more efficient and secure. The Dubilier prize is named after the late Martin Dubilier, M.B.A. 1952, co-founder of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, one of the country’s premier leveraged buyout firms.

FOCUS FOODS INC. won the $50,000 Peter M. Sacerdote Grand Prize in the Social Enterprise Track for their development of an urban aquaponics farm, a self-sustaining symbiotic fish and produce system. Founders Julia Kurnik of the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and Geoff Becker said they have already arranged partnerships with several grocery stores to implement 60,000-square-foot installations in urban areas that will allow the stores to grow fresh produce on their rooftops and do away with food shipping and spoilage concerns.