Harvard Announces 2023 New Venture Competition Winners

Harvard Business School, Baker Library

Harvard Announces 2023 New Venture Competition Winners

Harvard Business School has announced the winners of its 2023 New Venture Competition (NVC), an annual competition for students and alumni interested in launching new business and social impact ventures.

318 teams competed in this year’s NVC—with 122 in the Student Business Track, 57 in the Student Social Enterprise Track, and 139 Alumni Track teams in eight regional competitions around the world. Since NVC’s inception in 1997, the competition has attracted 6,022 participants and doled out $2,980,000 in award money given to students and alumni who are creating groundbreaking new businesses and social impact ventures.

This year, NVC awarded $225,000 in cash plus in-kind prizes to fund the startups. The top prize in the Student Business Track and Student Social Enterprise Track was $75,000 each, with runner-up prizes of $25,000. There were also two audience prizes of $5,000; and $15,000 in Tough Technology prizes.

“Our entrepreneurs have been working diligently on their ventures for the past year or two, and the NVC is the culmination of that work,” Jodi Gernon, director of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, says. “They have cultivated their ideas, often collaborated with classmates, and taken advantage of the many entrepreneurship resources the School has to offer. Now, with the experience of crafting, refining, and delivering a pitch, and in some cases a cash prize, they can continue their journey.”


The student business track is designed for new ventures whose economic returns drive substantial market impact. This year’s winner was Halo Braid, a student venture that reduces braiding time from hours to minutes, saving time for clients, empowering Black salon owners to double or triple their business, and addressing the eight billion hours spent braiding hair each year. The three co-founders are all members of the MBA Class of 2023: Yinka Ogunbiyi, David Afolabi, and Christian Knight (MBA 2023).


The student social enterprise track encourages HBS grads to become involved in social enterprises and to support their efforts. This year’s winner was MV3 Foundation, a nonprofit organization that empowers Black college students pursuing careers in health sciences.


This was the fourth year for the Tough Technology Prize, which recognizes ventures working on transformative technology that solves the world’s most important challenges through the convergence of breakthrough science, engineering, and leadership. There were three $5,000 awards this year given to the ‘most promising’ ventures in: Climate Tech, Deep Tech, and Pharmaceuticals.

The Climate Tech Venture prize was awarded to Grensol, a company that closes the materials loop for car recycling to valorize industrial waste, recover valuable resources, and produce energy.

The Deep Tech Venture prize was awarded to Phenegra, which re-imagines the potential of reactive graphene to attack problems that imperil the natural environment, like oil spills, unrecycled garbage, depleted soil.

The Pharmaceutical Venture prize was awarded to Believer Pharmaceutical, which is developing novel protein degradation therapeutics targeting Zinc Finger transcription factors for intractable cancer treatment along with an ultrasensitive companion diagnostic assay.

Sources: Harvard Business School, Harvard Business School

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