We not only celebrated the accomplishments of our 15 finalist teams and applauded 7 of them as they took home a share of $310,000 in prize money, but also of the hundreds of students and their teams who were a part of this year’s President’s Innovation Challenge.
It was also a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship and of this University’s commitment to fostering them within its community. Now more than ever, the world’s need for both has never been greater or more central to our collective future. Innovation and entrepreneurship have gone from being peripheral propositions to serving as essential tenets of growing economies, growing companies, and even the workforce of tomorrow. Because in today’s world, the sensibilities of entrepreneurship are increasingly requisite whether you are an entrepreneur or not. The ability to take risk, to persevere, to evolve, to lead, and to collaborate in ways that create more value for more people matters whether you are a manager in a Fortune 500 company or starting a startup.
As testament to this growing global need, this year, we received 460 applications to the President’s Innovation Challenge, of which 123 were accepted as semi-finalists. Of those, 15 were selected as finalists who, tonight, pitched their ventures to a team of 14 judges, shared their stories with a crowd of 500 guests and supporters, and vied for grand prizes, runner-up prizes, and a crowd favorite prize, sponsored by the Bertarelli Foundation. So, with that, we celebrate all of those who have taken their first steps into this exciting, trying, and rewarding journey. And, especially last night, to our 7 President’s Innovation Challenge winners. Congratulations from us all.
Winner of the Social Impact & Cultural Enterprise Track: OZE
OZÉ means business, and the growth of it. We’re passionate about enabling small businesses and local ownership to grow with technology, particularly in emerging markets.
That’s why we’re starting in Africa. By providing small businesses with the data they need to make decisions, OZÉ enables investment-readiness and a chance for a local economy to assert itself on a global stage.
Winner of the Open Track: STEMgem
STEMgem is a device toolkit that allows learners to create real, useful and relevant technology. We bring the impact of tech innovation to STEM education.
We provide the smart device toolkits to schools, teachers, parents, and students. The toolkit comes with a device you can customize and wear around your wrist, as well as different sensors that can measure movement, health, and more.
The team is comprised of MIT engineers & Harvard educators.
Winner of the Health & Life Sciences Track: PionEar
PionEar is revolutionizing the treatment of ear infections with low-cost, minimally invasive, and selectively permeable ear tube implants.
The goal of PionEar is to design ear tubes that do not clog as easily and can improve drug delivery to the middle ear. Current tubes have limited flow due to their small size, making it challenging to effectively treat infections with topical ear drops.
To solve these problems, the PionEar team is utilizing anti-fouling technology from the Aizenberg lab. The lab has created super-slick coatings that can be optimized for many uses, from keeping barnacles from adhering to the keel of a ship to preventing corrosion on steel surfaces.
Social Impact or Cultural Enterprise: Jump Credit
Health and Life Sciences: X-Cor Therapeutics
Open Track: FinWeGo