Top 10 Innovation Moments of 2023
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Top 10 Innovation Moments of 2023

Top 10 Innovation Moments of 2023

This year saw no shortage of exciting milestones for our amazing community of innovators. Thank you so much for being part of the Harvard Innovation Labs community in 2023. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Record-setting student membership

Since fall 2022, when we launched a new, more inclusive membership model that welcomes Harvard student innovators at every stage of their entrepreneurial journeys, there’s been no shortage of interest in the i-lab’s venture-building resources. In fact, the spring 2023 and fall 2023 semesters both saw record-setting engagement from students wishing to explore innovation, test an idea, or propel a venture — making the student i-lab a multidisciplinary hub for innovation across campus.

three student members stand in front of Hi logo wearing Harvard sweatshirt
Student membership is now open for the spring semester. Join today to take advantage of orientation in late January, early funding opportunities, and spring mentor matching.

More than $7B raised

Collectively, more than 4,000 i-lab ventures have raised more than $7B since the Harvard Innovation Labs was founded, according to Pitchbook.

While fundraising isn’t the only measure of success, it’s clear that Harvard-founded startups are making a sizable impact, building solutions for some of the world’s biggest problems. Don’t miss our upcoming annual roundup to learn more about exciting venture milestones. founders sit at desk, a company helping health plans and systems streamline prior authorization, raised $2.4 million earlier this year.

Ventures named TIME Best Inventions

Two products from i-lab ventures made theTIME “Best Inventions of 2023″ list: IAMBIC’s MODEL T, a sizeless sneaker custom fitted by AI, and SurgiBox’s SurgiField, an ultraportable surgical environment that’s saving lives in today’s war zones.

As a member of the 2023-24 Launch Lab X GEO cohort, IAMBIC is making footwear personalization accessible for the first time — using tech to capture a 360-degree view of fit requirements like shape and walking patterns. Their work is the culmination of more than three years of government-backed R&D, 12 patent-pending inventions, and the collective efforts of their global team.

SurgiBox won the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge in 2016. The SurgiField’s battery-powered, sterile surgical environment inflates from a backpack with filtered air, offering the control of a first-rate operating room with the footprint of a fanny pack.

pair of sneakers and Surgifield invention
Read more about the IAMBIC MODEL T and the SurgiBox SurgiField, pictured above, in TIME.

Inaugural NextGen Accelerator supports 25 Black-led startups

With support from Amazon Web Services Startups, the i-lab welcomed 25 Black-led ventures to the inaugural NextGen Accelerator, a two-week bootcamp for early-stage student founders from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and schools in sub-Saharan Africa. Founders engaged in daily interactive workshops, led by successful entrepreneurs and experts, on a range of key topics, such as customer discovery, market validation, pitching, fundraising, and leadership skills.

Cheering on the 2023 President’s Innovation Challenge winners

From restoring vision for the blind, to using AI to generate assets for creative teams, to providing mentorship and scholarships to minority students pursuing medical degrees, the winning startups recognized during the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony are tackling some of the world’s toughest problems head-on. More than 2,000 people tuned in to the May 3 awards ceremony to hear live pitches from 25 finalists and learn who won a share of $515,000 in non-dilutive funding, courtesy of the Bertarelli Foundation.

Celebrating award-winning contributions to venture creation

We’re honored to be recognized by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers for “Outstanding Contributions to Venture Creation” in 2023. It’s a privilege to be able to support our incredible students from across the University who together are building more than 900 ventures this year.

Outside of Harvard Innovation Labs building

An expert community with a generous spirit

Our supportive expert community held 1,585 advising sessions with students over the past academic year. These global volunteers include serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, creative directors, and lawyers from Boston to San Francisco to Kenya. More than 400 experts volunteer their time to host office hours, facilitate informative workshops, serve as judges for funding applications and competitions, and participate in our mentor program. Thank you, i-lab experts, judges, and mentors!

three people of different ages look at a computer screen together

Long-awaited reunions on campus and beyond

This year, we’re so thankful we could bring together alumni entrepreneurs in new and engaging ways — both on campus and beyond. Across the alumni and friends reunion dinner before the President’s Innovation Challenge, a pitch and networking event in San Francisco that coincided with TechCrunch Disrupt, and the in-person orientation for our new cohort of LLX GEO ventures from seven countries, it’s clear that our alumni value staying connected.

harvard alumni founder and i-lab advisor smiling at event

An evening in the Shark Tank

In October, celebrity entrepreneur, investor, and ABC’s "Shark Tank" star Kevin O’Leary talked entrepreneurship and judged a student pitch competition in front of a live audience at Klarman Hall. Crop Diagnostix, cofounded by Brandon Chi (HBS MBA 2024), took home the top prize, including a $100,000 investment prize from Searchlight Capital.

student founders line up on stage in front of Kevin O'Leary to hear feedback on their pitches

Harvard’s growing innovation footprint

The innovation ecosystem at Harvard is expanding, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the i-lab and our entrepreneurship partners, including the Harvard Grid; the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship; the Lemann Program on Creativity and Entrepreneurship; the Social Innovation and Change Initiative; and others. Together we’ve held cross-campus and cross-university networking mixers, lab-to-launch events, satellite advising sessions, and more.

We’re thrilled that Allston continues to grow as a leading innovation hub. Construction has begun on the Enterprise Research Campus, a nine-acre, mixed-use development that will include lab spaces, apartments, a hotel, a University-wide conference center (the David Rubenstein Tree House), and more than two acres of community-oriented public outdoor space.

large audience seated in Batten Hall lobby

What was your favorite innovation moment from 2023? Share it on social media and tag @HarvardInnovationLabs.

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