Harvard Business School’s New Venture Competition Awards $225K in Cash Prizes

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School’s New Venture Competition Awards $225K in Cash Prizes

Harvard Business School recently hosted its 27th annual HBS New Venture Competition (NVC) with 12 student finalist teams competing for a total of $225,000 in cash prizes.

The NVC, open to students and alumni, had 262 participating teams, spanning various tracks including Student Business, Student Social Enterprise, and Alumni. The top prize in the Student Business Track and Student Social Enterprise Track was $75,000 each, with runner-up prizes of $25,000; two audience prizes of $5,000; and $15,000 in Tough Technology prizes. This year’s competition was vetted by over 300 judges and mentors from a variety of fields, including venture capital, private equity, law, accounting, philanthropy, impact investing, and social entrepreneurship.

“The New Venture Competition provides a rigorous platform through which students develop their business ideas as a positive force for change,” says Elise Bates, an HBS Class of 2000 grad who recently joined the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship as its new director. “It serves not only as a challenging competition but also as a profound educational opportunity. Students engage in collaborative efforts with peers and receive pragmatic feedback from a deep bench of serial entrepreneurs and early-stage investors. All teams apply valuable lessons to new innovations that make a difference in the world.”

STUDENT BUSINESS TRACK: AI-POWERED AGRICULTURE WINS BIG

Crop Diagnostix clinched the top spot this year, securing the coveted $75,000 Grand Prize in the Student Business Track. The technology company, made up of Brandon Chi (HBS MBA 2024), Joseph Swift, Amitesh Pratap, and Leonie Luginbuehl, analyzes gene expression in plants to help farmers optimize their inputs and maximize yield.

The winner of the $25,000 Runner Up Prize was Sanso, a company that helps drug manufacturers produce life-saving biologics more efficiently, in order to deliver cheaper drugs to patients worldwide.

BEAM stood out as the crowd favorite in the Student Business Track, captivating audiences with their revolutionary approach to satellite data access and transfer.

STUDENT SOCIAL ENTERPRISE TRACK: SOLAR IRRIGATION INNOVATION

Solara took center stage in the Student Social Enterprise Track, securing the prestigious $75,000 Grand Prize. The venture, led by Rea Savla (HBS MBA 2024) and Vishesh Mehta, offers an on-demand solar irrigation service to Indian farmers, increasing their access to affordable, reliable, and clean irrigation methods.

Trans Health HQ, led by Ivan Hsiao, MPH 2024, earned recognition as the $25,000 Runner Up Prize winner. The platform addresses clinicians’ barriers around learning and advocacy within the transgender community, fostering greater inclusivity and support in healthcare.

The crowd favorite in the Student Social Enterprise Track was SeaCycle, led by Hande Ilhan and Jakob Spiess (HBS MBA 2025), pioneering sustainable biopolymer production and driving positive environmental impact.

ALUMNI TRACK: A FRESH TAKE ON CHILD NUTRITION

Elisa emerged as the top winner in the Alumni Track, claiming the first-place spot for over $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. Led by Rosalino Molina (HBS MBA 2022), Elisa is dedicated to revolutionizing child nutrition in Latin America by providing fresh and additive-free meals, addressing crucial health challenges in the region.

Harken Sweets, led by Katie Lefkowitz (HBS MBA 2016), won as the Runner Up and Crowd Favorite. Their venture reimagines joy-inspiring, iconic treats, infusing them with superfoods that nourish and satiate.

Sources: Harvard Business School, Harvard Business School

Next Page: April Checklist for Round 1 Applicants

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.