Student-led startups vie for top prize in President’s Challenge

2 min read

Projects led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health students—one that trains Indian girls as peer health educators and another that aims to use technology to allow patients and their loved ones to interact with their hospital care in real-time—are among the 10 finalist teams in this year’s President’s Challenge.

Now in its fifth year, this competition gives students from across the University and others the chance to turn their venture ideas into fully-formed businesses. Finalists receive funding, mentorship, and access to the resources of the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab). A grand prize pool of $100,000 will be split between the winning team and three runners-up tonight at the Challenge’s Demo Day showcase.

Girls Health Champions

On her many trips to India, Priya Shankar observed how some of the country’s societal norms can negatively affect a women or girls’ health and opportunities, from menstrual taboos that keep girls home from school to the belief that husbands have the right to beat their wives. She believed that if girls were given the information they could teach and support each other.


Physician Joe Fitchett loved his work on the health care frontlines at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, where he trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases, but he often found himself frustrated by old-fashioned and inefficient administrative systems. He reasoned that there must be a way to allow patients and their loved ones to view, follow, and interact with their hospital care.