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Harvard Business School Celebrates New Student Ventures In AI, Healthcare Innovation & More

The 2024 HBS New Venture Competition, an annual student business plan contest at Harvard Business School, crowned innovative winners in areas including AI and healthcare

Mon Apr 8 2024

Harvard Business School (HBS) honored students and alumni who created groundbreaking organizations that use business as a force of positive change at the 2024 New Venture Competition (NVC). 

Of this year's winners, common themes emerged including artificial intelligence (AI), AgriTech, and healthcare innovation. 

"Complex societal challenges require innovative approaches, collaboration across sectors, humility, and the determination of the next generation of leaders," Amelia Angella (MBA 2001), director of the Social Enterprise Initiative, said. 

"This year's entrants are powerful examples of business as a positive force for social change.”

The NVC, an annual competition dating back to 1997, saw students and alumni competing to present their new businesses and social impact ventures, with the winners receiving prizes totaling $225,000. 

In addition to the cash prizes, sponsors donated tools and services that will help launch and grow the startups. This years sponsors are All Stage, Case Smart Impact Capital, Foley Hoag LLP Law Firm, Harvard Innovation Labs, HubSpot for Startups, MassChallenge, and Wix.

In this year's competition, 262 teams participated in the competition—88 in the Student Business Track, 31 in the Student Social Enterprise Track, and 143 Alumni Track teams in eight regional competitions around the world.

From this selection, a team of judges and mentors whittled the number down to 20 finalists, eight in the Student Business Track, four in the Social Enterprise Track, and eight in the Alumni Track, in fields as varied as healthcare, sustainability, artificial intelligence, lifestyle and cosmetics, and nutrition.

The finalists gathered in Klarman Hall at HBS for the Grand Final of the competition on March 28th.

"The NVC provides structure, support, and scaffolding for our students and alumni, enabling them to tackle some of the most pressing issues and opportunities of our time—from climate change to healthcare inequities to AI and other new technologies that simultaneously encompass unprecedented risks and opportunities," said Professor Shikhar Ghosh, faculty co-chair of the HBS Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. 

Below are this year’s winners: 

Student Business Track

The Dubilier, Grand Prize $75,000:

Crop Diagnostix: Redefining precision agriculture through AI-powered, genetic insights.

Satchu-Burgstone, Runner Up Prize $25,000:

Sanso: Helping drug manufacturers produce life-saving biologics more efficiently in order to deliver cheaper drugs to patients worldwide.

Crowd Favorite Prize:

BEAM: Providing continuous, high-bandwidth access to satellite data through a software-enabled optical communications module and data transfer service, connecting individual satellites in any orbit to a broad network of satellites and their connected ground stations across the world.

Student Social Enterprise Track

Peter M. Sacerdote, Grand Prize $75,000:

Solara: Providing an on-demand solar irrigation service to Indian farmers, increasing their access to affordable, reliable, and clean irrigation.

Peter M. Sacerdote, Runner Up Prize $25,000:

Trans Health HQ: A tool built by the trans community that addresses clinicians' barriers around learning and advocacy. 

Crowd Favorite Prize:

SeaCycle: Pioneering sustainable biopolymer production.

Alumni Track

First Place Winner:

Elisa: Transforming child nutrition in Latin America through fresh and additive-free meals.

Region: International Track

Runner Up and Crowd Favorite:

Harken Sweets: Harken reimagines joy-inspiring, iconic treats, infusing them with superfoods that nourish and satiate. It's not a "bar"…it's a functional candy bar. Thank goodness we can finally eat those again.

Region: New York