2021 President’s Innovation Challenge

Our desire for a better future
gives us direction.

What does it mean to be more human? We may each have our own answer. But we experience our shared humanity when we pursue work that brings out the best in us, individually and collectively. We experience it when we take action against the problems that plague us and imagine another world beyond our current solutions. As we continue to work on tough, deep challenges and tackle fresh ones, we also strive to become more empathetic and inclusive.

This was particularly evident throughout the 2021 President’s Innovation Challenge, where ideas grew into ventures that are changing our world for the better.

Get to know the teams!

How do we build a future that’s more courageous and more connected?

How can we show up in more caring and creative ways?

What do we retain, and what do we remake?

Hope sustains us as we move from uncertainty to action.

Build Something Extraordinary

The President’s Innovation Challenge (PIC) is a call to action for students and select alumni pursuing ventures that push the boundaries of their fields. Throughout the spring, accepted ventures develop with comprehensive support from the Harvard Innovation Labs Venture Program. Along the way, they’re challenged not only to better understand individual and community needs, but to become better leaders, colleagues, and human beings. Semi-finalist teams enter the track that is most appropriate for their venture for specialized advising. 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 facing these fields range from the depletion of finite resources, to social equity, to helping artists and cultural traditions thrive.

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.
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.
Launch Lab X GEO
Harvard’s Launch Lab X GEO accelerator 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.
Life Lab
This category includes groundbreaking biotech and life-science 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.

Meet the teams behind the 2020 winning ventures!

Are you curious to learn more about the 2021 President’s Innovation Challenge finalists and winners?

Get Energized for Change

Great ideas inspire even better ones when we share, collaborate, and cheer each other on. Whether they’re tackling fashion industry waste, the financial burden of higher education, or the limitations of injection-only drugs, our ventures’ stories will inspire you, too! Check out a selection of our initiatives below.

It’s Really About People

Women Led Wednesdays

Meet the women innovators behind some of the incredible ventures in the i-lab community. Learn about what they’re building and hear their unique perspectives.

Read more

Say Hi

What inspires our community members? Get to know the people at the i-lab as they say “hello!” to you and each other. Stay tuned to learn more!

Venture Profiles

Discover the founders behind some of the most exciting ventures developing within the i-lab community, and making a difference in the world!

Read more

Ingenuity Awards

Three early stage teams in the Venture Program Start It cohort were selected to win Ingenuity Awards this year.

Find out who won!

What’s around the corner at the Harvard Innovation Labs?

Want to stay in-the-know about upcoming events, newsmaking ventures, and the latest in entrepreneurship? Sign up for Press Thirteen, the Harvard Innovation Labs newsletter, celebrating innovators from all 13 schools. Our community is bold, curious, and unafraid to exit when the elevator opens on the 13th floor. Join us!

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