2020 President's Innovation Challenge

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. If I’m selected as a Finalist, does that disqualify me from the Ingenuity Awards?
    Build It teams are ineligible to apply for the Ingenuity Awards.
  2. If my venture is a Semi-Finalist in the President’s Innovation Challenge but doesn’t get chosen as a Finalist, do I have to end my venture? 
    Absolutely not. You remain in the 2020 Spring Venture Program and can continue developing your venture with the enthusiastic support of the i-lab.
  3. If I win the President’s Innovation Challenge Bertarelli Foundation Award, does the money have to go toward funding?
    What you decide to do with your prize money is entirely up to you and your team!
  4. Do I have to attend the Awards Ceremony in May to receive an award?
    It’s expected that you attend the ceremony in May to receive an award.
  5. Do I have to update my application to participate?
    Yes, to be considered for the President’s Innovation Challenge you must update your application.
  6. I missed the deadline to update my application for the President’s Innovation Challenge, can I still submit? 
    The deadline to update is Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 11:59p EST. We will not be accepting late applications so be sure you plan ahead of time.



The Social or Cultural Impact Track is open to teams that want to make our planet safer, more equitable, and sustainable, or for teams helping artists and the arts thrive. The numerous critical issues facing these fields range from the depletion of finite resources to scaling growth.

Sub-categories include but are not limited to: arts, education, environment, economic development, food, and agriculture.


The Health or Life Sciences Track is open to any team improving the efficacy of healthcare services, including therapeutics, devices, health systems, health IT, and data analytics. Projects may address a wide range of issues, from improving access to care to realizing the potential of personalized therapies.


The Open Track recognizes that great ideas can transcend categories, and may include commercial enterprises. Greater economic opportunity also requires improvements in connectivity, infrastructure, and resource optimization.

Sub-categories include but are not limited to: sports, technology, security, consumer products, and virtual and augmented reality applications.


Harvard’s Launch Lab X accelerator supports alumni-led ventures that disrupt and reimagine their industries. Launch Lab X applicants to the President’s Innovation Challenge have already been pre-selected.


This category (new this year!) includes groundbreaking biotech and life-science start-ups founded by Harvard students, alumni, faculty, and postdoctoral scholars. Life Lab applicants to the President’s Innovation Challenge have already been pre-selected.


The Ingenuity Awards celebrate innovative solutions that reimagine our industries, communities, or daily lives. Unlike the other PIC awards, there’s no need to develop a venture to apply for and win this award. All you need to do is describe your idea.


If you’re not sure which category your venture falls under, please contact the i-lab for guidance!



The President’s Innovation Challenge is open to venture teams led by at least one matriculated, full-time, and degree-seeking Harvard student, including undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral fellows, and clinical fellows. While we encourage collaboration with entrepreneurs, scientists, and industry executives, and welcome participants outside of the Harvard community, we require that a Harvard student be a founder and committed leader of each venture.

  • Teams may only submit one (1) Application.
  • Applicants may only be on one (1) Application and not be part of multiple teams.
  • Use of the i-lab and its resources will be subject to the i-lab’s ​Terms of Use​.
  • We reserve the right to disqualify any Application that we, in our sole and absolute discretion, determine does not fit within the parameters of the Challenge.
  • All participants MUST submit an Application by January 2 in order to participate.