Long before we kicked off 2018 at the Harvard Innovation Labs, we asked ourselves: how can we better resource the teams selected for the Spring VIP?
Over the years, we’ve added a number of resources to the VIP program. In 2017 alone, we opened an AR/VR studio, expanded our team of advisors, and refocused our venture mentorship strategy. This year, we’re looking at ways to more effectively and efficiently connect these ventures with early-stage funding.
To that end, we’re thrilled to announce that for the first time, each of the 2018 Spring VIP teams will have the opportunity to compete for Bertarelli Foundation Prizes totaling $310,000 as part of the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge (PIC). The Challenge encourages students to create ventures that address to pressing issues facing the world, and awards seed money to the top teams in several categories.
Combining the PIC with the VIP helped us attract more than twice as many applicants to the spring program. Our advising team enthusiastically reviewed more than 400 applications and selected 123 ventures to participate in the 2018 Spring VIP.
The teams represent a broad diversity of industries: 36% are focused on social impact, cultural entrepreneurship or education; 29% on consumer products or services; 28% on health and sciences; and 31% on enterprise or high tech. The startup founders come from all 13 Harvard schools — an excellent expression of President Drew Faust’s One Harvard vision to foster collaboration across the entire Harvard community.
Technology and B2B/Enterprise
“While the debate in Startupland rages on about whether Bitcoin is more likely to hit $20,000 or $2, there’s no debate the underlying blockchain tech is a key innovation driver,” said Howard Kaplan, associate director of technology. “It’s inspiring to see student founders use blockchain to take on big causes like ending censorship world-wide or stopping the spread of crushing student debt.”
The 2018 Spring VIP technology and B2B/enterprise ventures include:
Aday Technologies, Inc.
Aday is a B2B human resources and operations platform that provides a multi-location internal labor market for employers of hourly team members.
AirCrew is developing novel technologies for catalytic decomposition of air pollutants in order to make clean air accessible and affordable globally.
Arbi is working on intelligent analytics for international law, so that practitioners can deliver superior legal research cost-effectively.
Atelier is an experience that combines the best in VR technology and brain research to deliver a personalized therapy that unlocks your creativity.
Base Operations helps global citizens navigate their cities and make better decisions about their safety. The company promotes transparency and security.
BridgeAlpha is working on a global job matching solution.
Carriage helps get electric vehicle charging infrastructure installed where drivers need it, and maintained when they need it.
CodeBlue’s product allows hospitals to use their electronic health data to answer clinical questions in real time, when no evidence-based guidelines exist.
Covalent Networks is equipping companies with the software tools and analytics to launch and administer best-in-class workforce development programs.
Evisort uses artificial intelligence to help companies organize, manage, and understand what’s in their contracts.
Faktor democratizes development of hardware (any physical product) by organizing and connecting the world’s manufacturers, designers, and innovators.
Frank is an AI-powered coach that is disrupting the college career center through personalized yet scalable career counseling for every student.
FullFill is matching supply and demand of warehousing space in the fragmented EU market and abstraction layer (only one intermediary) for value added services.
Inkrypt is creating a platform on which journalism firms can back up their content and data so that it is invulnerable to both front-end and back-end censorship.
Karuna collects and analyzes novel health outcome data to improve transparency and accelerate the shift towards value-based care.
Müüd is an emotional artificial intelligence company developing software providing real-time predictive emotional analytics for media and advertising.
OZÉ is a mobile app that empowers small business owners in Ghana to make data-driven decisions to improve their performance.
Privacy Watch creates a personal data exchange where consumers control how much or how little data they share with companies they interact with online.
Singularity is developing AI-powered distributed energy networks.
STEMgem is a device toolkit that allows learners to build real, useful, and relevant technology. The company’s mission is to engage teenage girls in STEM.
Struct Club (GroupX)
Struct Club is the go-to platform for fitness instructors to plan, present, source, and share workout class plans and music, starting with cycling.
Transcend gives consumers control over their personal data. Use its tools to get access to your data, opt out of data brokerage, and share data how you want.
UniCoin is a blockchain decentralized platform that lets students take students loans at lower than market rates, and enforces them using smart contracts.
Unsize eliminates the questions of “will this fit me?” for online shoppers through a connected measuring device and apparel recommendation web app.
Waypoint Labs, Inc.
WayPoint Labs develops augmented reality software for front-line knowledge management.
Wayscript is a visual, powerful, and intuitive programming platform for businesses to build software automations without coding.
Whimmly enables ecommerce retailers to have personalized, natural conversations with their customers via an assistant.
Zoba uses machine learning to make predictions about crime, terrorism, and other events inside cities.
Zoid Domain Awareness
Because managers cannot pay attention to everyone at once, Zoid Domain Awareness analyzes their video feed data and report back to them with actionable insights.
ZY4 seeks to revolutionize global encryption and digital security with the world’s first truly quantum-safe encryption and blockchain.
“There are quite a few interesting clusters emerging from this cohort of consumer companies,” said Peter Gladstone, assistant director of consumer goods and services. “While the largest is still in the food and beverage space, we’re increasingly seeing the Harvard community explore ideas in infant care, news aggregation, apparel & accessories, personal finance, and a number of other areas.”
The 2018 Spring VIP consumer ventures include:
Abridge News is a balanced media platform that makes it fun and easy to interact with diverse opinions.
AlphaInvest is an online platform that will democratize investing, bringing institutional-quality investment management to the broader market.
Anantara converts collector-only economies into craftsmen communities whose culturally rich, value-addition positively reinforces the environment.
Aretian Foundation provides healthier, fresher meals affordable to urban communities by purchasing, processing, and distributing local food from New England farmers.
BabyN’Me helps parents of newborns maximize their child’s health potential by collecting and analyzing infants’ data to deliver tailored recommendations.
Cozy Life is a full-service, convenient, and easy-to-use online marketplace that changes the way secondhand furniture is being exchanged and recycled.
CozyKin makes personal, Montessori childcare accessible to every child by bringing families together to share a CozyKin nanny at home.
Crave is the Tinder for food. Users swipe through photos of dishes based on location. If they like a dish, they tap and get options on how to get it.
Influencer marketing for esports. Endorse connects brands to video game players for authentic product sponsorships.
FinWeGo (FKA MoneyPlant)
FinWeGo is India’s first workplace financial wellness platform offering affordable and responsible credit to employees by collaborating with their employers.
Flour Jungle is striking natural flower 3-D sculptures, allowing stunning semi-permanent decoration at significant savings. The products are sold online via a subscription model.
Good Thread Company
Good Thread Company is a social impact ecommerce manufacturer of “accessible luxury” bags whose profits are shared to support the operations of charities.
Gourmenu is building a system to help restaurants reduce labor cost and help diners to make well-informed dining decisions.
Hella Good empowers women seeking healthier habits by offering lean protein bars and content on nutrition, as well as by advocating health & wellness over beauty standards.
Hellofriend is a blockchain-based platform that is focused on reducing economic burden of hosting social activities.
Landscape is a political news aggregator that organizes stories based on ideological leaning and social impact.
Lazy Bear brews delicious, refreshing teas from cascara, the fruit of the coffee cherry, that is usually discarded during coffee production.
Lesson Squad is focused on private music lessons and gear on demand.
Limitless Laptop wants to make a laptop that is fast, portable and mobile internet ready. The company has found that the way to achieve this is by moving hardware to the cloud.
Pathways to Creative Industries (formerly Jaxxed)
Pathways to Creative Industries is a social enterprise that creates pathways and opportunities for underserved youth through a fashion brand.
PeopleNex uses technology to create user-centered solutions for aging adults who experience social isolation.
Pressed Roots is building a chain of blow-out hair salons that specializes in straightening ethnic hair textures in a healthy, fast, and inexpensive way.
Amplify enables anyone to benefit from their social media presence, and helps brands market themselves through the social networks of their customers.
Respect My Lane LLC
Respect My Lane designs and manufactures ultra-reflective cycling gear with bold messaging to keep cyclists safer in urban environments.
RSTRO is a platform that connects unused space at food incubators with restaurants looking to expand w/o high fixed costs and with a focus on food delivery.
TOP-UP is a marketplace where consumers in Mexico can earn mobile data by completing engagements with brands and governmental agencies.
üBAR Labs designs and produces nutritional foods and health products that are personalized for each individual’s genetic composition.
Uni – College Marketplace
Uni – College Marketplace makes a mobile application that acts as a peer to peer secondhand marketplace for students within a college community.
Voodles is reinventing dry pasta by constructing it primarily from vegetables, transforming a high-calorie starch into something light and healthy.
Health and Sciences
“Technological advances are allowing this year’s health and science ventures to address problems in ways that were previously unfathomable,” commented Alice Ly. “Teams are using augmented reality to help stroke patients with recovery, engineered microbes to target drug delivery, and novel devices to treat ear infections and COPD. Collectively, these ideas offer a great reminder that the application of new technologies is what brings innovation to life.”
Read on to learn more about this cohort’s health and science ventures.
Amble developed an undergarment pair of leggings that reduces joint pain and stiffness, prevents muscle atrophy and integrates seamlessly into daily life.
AUGMENTx offers timely access to a digitized, augmented reality enabled mirror therapy for stroke patients to enhance stroke recovery.
Checkmate is a glucose-monitoring app that encourages people with diabetes to check their sugar levels by using gamification and social platforming.
DataDontix uses a cloud-based platform to connect patients, dentists, and vendors to facilitate communication for better dental care.
ENGRAM is making a high-sensitivity biosensor able to detect medical & environmental cues (e.g. disease state, pollutants) by converting transient bio-events to DNA memory.
Eudios uses machine learning to help companies understand and reduce their economic vulnerability to infectious disease outbreaks.
Flow Suit is clothing with built-in electrodes that can enable paraplegics to have manual control of their legs through electronic muscle stimulation.
General Biotechnologies is the first company that systematically finds and develops life-saving technologies based on neglected patents stranded at research institutes.
Herald delivers healthcare providers the data they need in real-time to improve the quality and safety of care.
Immunity Health organizes complex medical data and makes it useful to hospitals and researchers.
Koroid enables healthcare providers to hire and manage temporary staff in an effective manner through its proprietary, AI-enabled technology.
Memora Health automates patient follow-up, monitoring, and triage for health care organizations.
MIPSync helps physicians maximize reimbursement from Medicare based on the physician’s performance on quality measures compared to his or her peers.
MODAR is creating the most natural, physician-centric platform with AI-assisted augmented reality glasses to significantly streamline a physician’s work.
Nalagenetics makes fast, affordable and accurate genetic testing for drug metabolism for Asia.
NanoBright offers non-invasive cancer prognosis, monitoring and screening with unparalleled accuracy.
Nella keeps you out of expensive ERs by providing free, instant access to a full-service digital health platform combining software and live nurses.
Olive is a smart belt that alerts ostomates about leakages and empowers them to manage their ostomy more effectively through data and technology.
OWL Assistive Technologies
OWL is a wheelchair-mounted, motorized camera and laser pointer for ALS patients that improves field of vision and communication efficiency.
PionEar is revolutionizing the treatment of ear infections with low-cost, minimally invasive, and selectively permeable ear tube implants.
SynXpro creates precision protein therapeutics by engineering symbiotic microbes for targeted delivery of biologics.
Theraoptix’s product is a contact lens that delivers medication to the eye that could replace & be more effective than the complex & taxing eye drop regimens.
Umbulizer is developing a reliable, low-cost, and portable device that can provide continuous ventilation to patients in resource-limited settings.
UniDx is employing drop-based microfluidics to quantitatively detect diseases at an early stage and at a low cost, beginning with malaria.
WeSeq develops methods to reduce the cost of sequencing, including your entire genome for under $100.
X-Cor Therapeutics develops low blood-flow CO2 removal technology to revolutionize acute respiratory failure.
Z Imaging builds augmented reality tools to help surgeons perform complex procedures safer and faster.
Social Impact, Cultural and Education
“I’ve seen a significant increase in both quantity and quality of ventures addressing fundamental educational challenges in the areas of language learning, medical instruction, parenting, remote teaching, curriculum development, and career counseling,” said Scott Overdyke, associate director of social enterprise. “Beyond education, this spring’s ventures are tackling an incredibly diverse set of issues, such as voter empowerment, refugee services, and food access for low-income populations.”
The social impact, cultural and education ventures that are part of the 2018 Spring VIP include:
BACprep is the first large-scale provider for affordable test prep services in Francophone Africa.
Bahasa helps you learn a new language while reading your click-bait articles.
Bluelaces Theater Company
Bluelaces creates immersive, multi-sensory theatrical experiences specifically designed for audiences with autism and other developmental disabilities.
ChatENG is the only remote English learning class designed specifically for the needs of students in Asia.
ChitChat VR offers a suite of immersive virtual reality videos, using contextual clues and cultural cues to promote a mastery of speaking English.
Choreosome is a platform that uses markerless motion capture technology to record, preserve and share the world’s ethnic and cultural dance heritage.
Coding it Forward
Coding it Forward inspires and empowers young people to use their tech skills to effect social change. The company builds onramps and opportunities for impact.
Community Collective, Inc.
Community Collective is a SaaS platform enabling groups of people to finance themselves through “collectives” – mini-banks for savings and loans.
Dignify is a freelance platform that matches refugees in the developing world (the workforce) to low to mid skill outsourced digital tasks (the work).
EatWell makes healthy eating more accessible to low-income urban families, reducing cost and inconvenience barriers with a 30 minute one-pot meal kit.
Educational Justice Activists
Educational Justice Activists selects the brightest high schoolers, train them as tutors, and pair each one with a low-income 5-8th grader to tackle educational inequity.
FooFii maps and tailors food resources to help health centers better serve their food insecure and low-income patients.
Four Minute Medicine
Four Minute Medicine is an educational platform in which medical information is organized & contextualized for students & junior physicians in under-resourced settings.
GovReach enables citizens, advocacy groups and government to understand crowd feedback; empowering decision makers and enhancing democracy through technology.
Grow Up Together
Grow Up Together makes an app that supports Chinese rural migrant workers in taking better care of the emotional needs of their children who can only see parents once a year.
Growing Communities integrates backyard farming technology & a distributed agriculture model to commercially grow vegetables & fish in economically-challenged communities.
Haven revolutionizes the formerly antiquated way homeless shelters lottery their beds at night, assisting in distribution of people-to-beds city-wide.
Joro uses smartphones as sensors to help people track and lower their daily energy consumption. Think of it as the FitBit for sustainability.
Jump Credit’s software helps city governments and non-profits provide instantaneous, high-quality credit score improvement advice and track their impact.
Kairos Learning uses simulation gaming to address the intangible barriers to socio-economic mobility embedded in education for first-generation, low-income students.
Knack is an education platform that allows users to create customized learning modules. The community tests and iterates on the content.
MannMukti aims to end the stigma around South Asian mental health by encouraging open, honest dialogue, improving awareness, and promoting self-care.
MDaaS is providing healthcare for the next billion by building the largest network of health centers in Africa.
Mozambique School Lunch Initiative
The Mozambique School Lunch Initiative invests in community-owned school lunch programs in rural Mozambique.
Nesuku aims to provide a tool for private teachers to manage finances, create promotions, schedule lessons and process payment, as well as consulting to garner students.
OKO (former SEA CG)
OKO leverages climate science and machine learning to disrupt climatic insurance in developing countries.
Outvote has built a platform that brings friend-to-friend voter turnout to national scale, reducing campaign cost-per-vote by 90% over current methods.
Parenting by Science
Parenting by Science provides usable bitesize research and actionable steps to help parents foster quality parent-child and parent-parent relationships.
PERIOD. The Menstrual Movement.
PERIOD. The Menstrual Movement. Progresses menstrual equity through the global distribution of period products, and the engagement of a global network of campus chapters.
Profilum is a data-driven career counselling service. The company helps to build individual pathways and connect learning to the future.
Refug.io is a website for NGOs to track & collaborate on refugee casework with outside orgs-a “patient management” software for refugee service providers.
Ripple Education is an EdTech product that makes teachers more effective educators – it saves teachers time and improves outcomes for students.
Sage Learning is creating a platform for educators to easily make libraries of Khan Academy-style teaching videos, hosted on their own YouTube-like channel.
StartHub Africa is an ed tech startup fighting unfulfilled potential of African talent by developing Africa’s next-generation workforce.
Trey uses mentorship and leadership development education to help prospective college athletes use sports as a springboard to lifetime success.
You Are Here
You Are Here is a web application that connects homeless individuals with basic necessities through a user-friendly map of resources.