Finalists Named in Annual President’s Innovation Challenge
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Finalists Named in Annual President’s Innovation Challenge

Black and white photograph students celebrating and hugging after Presidents Innovation Challenge finalists announced

The Harvard Innovation Labs recently announced the 20 finalists for this year’s President’s Innovation Challenge.

The Challenge brings the Harvard community together to engage with pressing issues facing the world and explore turning their ideas into impactful, real-world ventures. Last year’s winners included PionEar, a company that is revolutionizing the treatment of ear infections; STEMgem for its device toolkits that bring the impact of tech innovation to STEM education; and OZÉ for creating a mobile app that helps small businesses in Africa improve their performance.

"The teams competing in this year’s President’s Innovation Challenge represent the extraordinary talent that exists across the University,” said Harvard President Lawrence Bacow. “I am thrilled to see the wide range of problems to which our finalists have applied their knowledge and skills, and I look forward to learning more about their work and to announcing the winners in a few weeks.”

This year, the President’s Innovation Challenge attracted more than 400 teams from all 12 Harvard schools. Finalists were selected from a committee of more than 100 judges with a wide array of industry experiences.

This year’s President’s Innovation Challenge finalists include:

Social Impact or Cultural Enterprise Track

  • Boost Finance — A financial data platform that empowers employers to expand smart cash transfers for a better future of work.
  • Coding it Forward — A 501(c)(3) nonprofit breaking down barriers into social impact technology, including with the Civic Digital Fellowship.
  • JustFix — Supporting tenants facing landlord harassment and neglected housing conditions with technology to build well-documented legal cases.
  • MDaaS Global — Building and operating modern, tech-enabled diagnostic centers to provide healthcare for Africa's next billion.
  • New Teachers Thriving — Providing trainings to help districts fix the crisis of tens of thousands of first-year teachers quitting every year.

Health and Life Science Track

  • Flotherm — A clinically superior way to maintain normothermia during surgery that helps reduce post-operative complications and avoidable expenditure.
  • GC Therapeutics — Revolutionizing cell therapy by building a cell engineering platform that is 100x faster and 10x more efficient enabling customized therapeutics tailored to target hard-to-cure diseases.
  • Kinnos — Company’s color changing disinfection technology raises the standard of infection prevention to protect the lives of healthcare workers and patients.
  • Limax Biosciences — Developing a strong, stretchy, and flexible hydrogel adhesive platform, based on bio-inspired materials, to seal wounds and promote healing throughout the body.
  • Longsleeve — Creating a non-DEET based insect repellent that lasts up to 3 days with a single use, through which they hope to prevent millions of deaths.

Open Track

  • LeverEdge — Using group buying power to get lower loan rates for students.
  • MyToolBox — A labor marketplace for skilled blue collar workers, offering a platform to secure jobs, manage licenses, and access basic financial services.
  • — Delivering Amazon-quality AI to B2B distributors that predicts what customers will buy, driving revenue growth and improving the customer experience.
  • ReThink — A patented app that detects online hate and gives users a second chance to reconsider the decision to post or send offensive message.
  • Voodles — Reinventing the way kids eat veggies with a vegetable-based pasta.

Launch Lab X Track for Harvard Alumni

  • Jamber — Bringing back the joy of living by using science to reinvent everyday objects that are transformative to the lives of our customers.
  • Legacy — Solving the 50% decline in male fertility by providing solutions to analyze, boost and freeze sperm without the need to visit a clinic.
  • Nilus — Building a sharing-economy model of food waste rescue, where private drivers pick up food in edible condition and deliver it to community kitchens and shelters.
  • Sophya — By leveraging computer vision and crowdsourced behavioral analysis of internet learners, Sophya helps students learn better using internet content.
  • Zubale — Transforming how companies engage with consumers across emerging markets.

During the President’s Innovation Challenge Showcase and Awards Ceremony on May 1 at Klarman Hall, attendees will have the opportunity to see all 20 finalists present their work. Harvard President Lawrence Bacow will give opening remarks, and the finalist teams in four categories will live-pitch their ventures. This year’s winners will take home Bertarelli Foundation Prizes totaling $410,000, consisting of four grand prizes of $75,000 , and four awards of $25,000 for runner-up ventures. Additionally, the newly created President’s Innovation Challenge Ingenuity Awards will give $10,000 to ideas with the potential to be world-changing, even if they are not yet fully formed ventures. The Ingenuity Awards grand prize is $5,000, with two runners-up taking home $2,500 each.

“It’s incredible to see how much the President’s Innovation Challenge has grown since 2011, not just in the number of teams that apply to participate, but in the ambitiousness of their ideas,” said Jodi Goldstein, executive director of the Harvard Innovation Labs. “We look forward to welcoming 1,000 people from the Harvard community and beyond to this year’s PIC Showcase and Awards Ceremony, where they will get to see first-hand how each of the finalists has the potential to impact the lives of millions.”

The President’s Innovation Challenge Showcase and Awards Ceremony is open to the Boston community as well as all Harvard affiliated students, alumni, faculty, and fellows. To register, visit