01. Application02. Selection03. Celebration

THE ROAD TO THE PRESIDENT’S INNOVATION CHALLENGE

The President’s Innovation Challenge (PIC) is an invitation to Harvard students and select alumni & affiliate-led ventures to propel their ideas forward. The PIC is also an opportunity to win a share of $510,000 in non-dilutive funding, made possible by a gift from the Bertarelli Foundation.

Throughout the six-month process, teams develop their ventures with robust support from the Harvard Innovation Labs.

01. Application
Eligible ventures prepare and apply for the President’s Innovation Challenge.
TIMELINE: November 18 - January 5
02. Selection
Accepted Semi-Finalist teams refine and drive their ventures forward.
TIMELINE: January - March
03. Celebration
Selected Finalists pitch to judges. Winners are announced live at the Awards Ceremony on May 5.
TIMELINE: April - May 5

ACT I

More Human Futures

The President’s Innovation Challenge is an opportunity to move toward a future that’s more connected, more creative, more human. It’s an invitation to develop solutions that can change the narrative. It’s also an invitation to our wider community to discover what’s possible when we lead the work of making life better for the next generation.

Apply by January 5, 2022 to join the PIC this spring!

 

Take Me to the Application!

How can we create space for new leaders to come to the front? How can we create space for new leaders to come to the front? How can we create space for new leaders to come to the front? How can we create space for new leaders to come to the front? How can we create space for new leaders to come to the front? How can we create space for new leaders to come to the front?
What might we discover with curiosity and compassion as our guides? What might we discover with curiosity and compassion as our guides? What might we discover with curiosity and compassion as our guides? What might we discover with curiosity and compassion as our guides? What might we discover with curiosity and compassion as our guides? What might we discover with curiosity and compassion as our guides?
How can we design products, systems, and services that reflect how we truly want to live? How can we design products, systems, and services that reflect how we truly want to live? How can we design products, systems, and services that reflect how we truly want to live? How can we design products, systems, and services that reflect how we truly want to live? How can we design products, systems, and services that reflect how we truly want to live? How can we design products, systems, and services that reflect how we truly want to live?

As possibilities expand, our futures brighten.

01. The Application

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE PIC?

Student Teams That Have Made Substantive Progress on Their Venture

When you apply to the 14-week Spring Venture Program at the Harvard Innovation Labs, you can also opt to apply to the President’s Innovation Challenge. Teams that qualify for the PIC have made progress on their venture beyond the initial ideation stages. They likely have gained market traction such as customers, users, signed partnerships, and/or funds from professional investors.

Student ventures are placed in one of three tracks:

  • Social Impact Track
  • Health & Life Sciences Track
  • Open Track, for ventures that transcend categories

 

Details for Student Applicants

Teams in Launch Lab X GEO and the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab

Venture teams currently in LLX GEO and the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab are automatically eligible to participate in the President’s Innovation Challenge. A selection of these Harvard alumni and affiliate-led ventures will be invited to apply for the PIC. For more information, please see your program administrator.


WHY JOIN THE PIC?

Experience

Teams accepted to the President’s Innovation Challenge benefit from all the resources at the i-lab, including 1:1 staff advising tailored to your industry, matched mentorship, expert office hours, and networking opportunities. Finalist teams also gain valuable experience pitching to judges.

Visibility

Throughout the spring, we will showcase many of our teams through social media and other editorial outlets. Teams chosen as Finalists will be invited to participate in the Awards Ceremony attended by the global innovation and investment communities.

Prize Money

The President’s Innovation Challenge is an opportunity to win a share of $510,000 in prize money, generously provided by the Bertarelli Foundation.

  • The grand prize award for each track is $75,000
  • The runner-up award is $25,000

Community

The conversations you have and the relationships you build are vital toward your progress as a team. Participating fully in a community of passionate entrepreneurs facing similar challenges can buoy you through successes, help you through frustrations, and support you well beyond the PIC experience.


WHAT ARE THE PIC TRACKS?

Accepted venture teams are placed into the track that is most appropriate for their venture. Each track awards $100,000 total in Bertarelli Foundation prize money.

Social Impact
The Social Impact Track is open to teams that want to make our planet safer, more equitable, sustainable, and beautiful. The critical issues they address include social equity, the depletion of finite resources, helping artists and cultural traditions thrive, and more.

Sub-categories include but are not limited to: arts, equity, education, environment, economic development, food, and sustainable agriculture.
Health & Life Sciences
The Health & 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.
Open
The Open Track recognizes that great ideas can transcend categories and may include commercial enterprises, including both business-to-consumer and business-to-business models. 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, food and beverage, and virtual and augmented reality applications.
Launch Lab X GEO
Harvard’s Launch Lab X GEO supports alumni-led ventures across the globe that disrupt and reimagine their industries. LLX GEO participants in the President’s Innovation Challenge are automatically accepted as Semi-Finalists.
Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab
This category includes groundbreaking biotech and life sciences startups founded by Harvard students, alumni, faculty, and postdoctoral scholars. Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab participants in the President’s Innovation Challenge are automatically accepted as Semi-Finalists.

 

WHEN IS THE PIC?

January 1. You apply! PIC applications for students are due by 11:59 pm EST on January 5, 2022.
2. The PIC selection committee evaluates which stage your venture has reached.
February 3. PIC Semi-Finalist and Venture Program acceptances are sent out to teams.
4. Semi-Finalists update their applications with new milestones and traction for the Finalist selection.
April 5. Judges select 15 student Finalist teams (five in each track) to pitch for the awards.
6. Finalists pitch live in front of a judging panel who will determine the grand prize and runner-up awards for each track.
May 7. At the President’s Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony on May 5, 2022, grand prize and runner-up awards are announced for the $75K and $25K Bertarelli Foundation prizes in each track.

Have questions about the PIC?

Schedule a 15 minute appointment with an i-lab advisor to ask application questions, determine which track is best for your team, understand the application process, and chat through anything else PIC!

You can also…

TAKE PART IN THE PIC!

The PIC is an opportunity to build something necessary and new, and be inspired by what’s possible. It’s also a chance to join an inspired and inspiring community of innovators who care as much about the questions as the solutions. Take the challenge to discover how more human futures are possible!
I’m ready to apply!

 

Apply by January 5 to be considered for the 2022 President’s Innovation Challenge.

ACT 2

no human is an island

Innovation depends on connection. And true connection happens when we get comfortable with being uncomfortable, reaching out, and tapping into the collective power of the people around us. When you connect with a community of passionate, diverse, creative people, you can build much, much more than you could have imagined alone. The President’s Innovation Challenge is an invitation to move the world forward together.

Applications for the 2022 PIC are now closed. Please follow along with us this spring as we feature our inspiring teams!

What problems can we solve when we work across silos and disciplines? What problems can we solve when we work across silos and disciplines? What problems can we solve when we work across silos and disciplines?
What does a more caring, supportive innovation ecosystem look like? What does a more caring, supportive innovation ecosystem look like? What does a more caring, supportive innovation ecosystem look like?
What collective experiments do we need to run? What collective experiments do we need to run? What collective experiments do we need to run?

Our interdependence
is our strength.

President’s Innovation Challenge 2022 Semi-Finalists

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

January • Students apply! PIC applications for students closed on January 5, 2022.
• PIC student Semi-Finalists are selected, notified of their acceptance and track, and announced.
February • Semi-Finalists work on their ventures and update their application with new milestones and traction for the Finalist selection.
March • External judges review applications. The judges help select 5 Finalists in each PIC track.
• PIC Finalists are selected and announced.
April • Finalists refine their pitches, work on their pitch decks, and prepare to pitch live to a panel of judges.
• Judges determine which teams will receive the $75,000 and $25,000 Bertarelli Foundation Awards in each track.
May • At the President’s Innovation Challenge Awards Ceremony on May 5, 2022, we will announce the $75K and $25K Bertarelli Foundation awards for each of the five tracks.

 

WHO QUALIFIES AS A SEMI-FINALIST?

Current full-time Harvard students were invited to opt into the President’s Innovation Challenge when they applied for the 14-week Spring Venture Program. Teams selected as Semi-Finalists had made progress on their venture, meaning that they likely have paid customers or partners, recruited a user base, or have mapped out a path for commercialization. From over 400 applications this year (our highest number ever!), less than 1/3 of the teams were selected to become Semi-Finalists by the PIC selection committee.

Successful teams frequently apply to the PIC multiple times, using the feedback they receive from this process to make meaningful progress during the following year. If you were not selected as a Semi-Finalist in 2022, we encourage you to apply next year!

WHAT’S NEXT?

Semi-Finalist teams will be judged by a panel of over 200 PIC Semi-Finalist judges, a diverse mix of entrepreneurs, operators, funders, non-profit experts, and specialists. The judges evaluate applications based on their experience, specialty, and industry expertise. In addition to scoring and helping to select the Finalist teams in each track, PIC judges also provide critical feedback, which many past teams have found invaluable toward refining their offering and iterating on their venture.

Check back here at the end of February to discover and get to know all our Semi-Finalist ventures!

What’s Coming Up for This Year’s Semi-Finalists?

Check out last year’s Finalists & winners to see where the road leads next!

 

PIC 2021 screen