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HBS Awards 2023 New Venture Competition Winners

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Harvard Business School recently crowned the winners of their annual New Venture Competition (NVC), doling out $225,000 in cash and prizes. Participants, which include any HBS students and alumni interested in starting a new business or social impact venture, spend at least a year developing their business idea and pitch. After starting with 318 teams this year, 20 student and alumni teams made it to the finals on March 30th. 

The NVC is divided into three tracks: Student Business, Student Social Enterprise, and Alumni. The competition featured 122 teams in the Student Business Track, 57 in the Student Social Enterprise Track, and 139 in the Alumni Track this year. Over 300 judges, including HBS graduates, narrowed the finalists to 12 student and eight alumni teams across various sectors from healthcare, sustainability, and nontraditional finance, to cosmetics and hair care. In addition to the cash award, winners receive business tools and services to help their ventures grow.

And the Award Goes to…

In the Student Business Track, Halo Braid won the Dubilier $75,000 Grand Prize and the Crowd Favorite Prize. Halo Braid is an automated hair braider designed for Black hair that decreases the time it takes to braid by at least half, saving time and increasing revenue. The runner-up prize of $25,000 went to DoriVac, which developed a DNA platform for enhanced personalized cancer immunotherapies.

The Student Social Enterprise Track’s Peter M. Sacerdote $75,000 Grand Prize was awarded to The MV3 Foundation, whose mission is to build and empower a community of Black undergraduate scholars in the health and biomedical sciences through mentorship. Pando, a loan provider “democratizing credit” by catering to the unique needs of Indonesians trying to secure loans for home improvement, won both the Peter M. Sacerdote $25,000 Runner-Up Prize and the Crowd Favorite Prize.

The Student Social Enterprise teams also compete for the Tough Technology Prize, now in its fourth year, which recognizes startups aimed at solving seemingly intractable problems through transformative technology that brings together engineering, science breakthroughs, and effective leadership. This year, three $5.000 Tough Tech Venture Awards were given out for Most Promising Climate Tech, Deep Tech, and Pharmaceutical Ventures.

Grensol, which generates renewable energy from underutilized resources, won the Most Promising Climate Tech prize. The Most Promising Deep Tech Venture prize went to Phenegra, whose work on reactive graphene promises to revolutionize graphene applications for environmental protection. Believer Pharmaceuticals won the Most Promising Pharmaceutical Venture prize with its novel protein degradation therapeutics for cancer treatments and an “ultrasensitive companion diagnostic assay.”

In the Alumni Track, 139 teams competed in regional contests worldwide, with finalists vying for $100,000 in cash and prizes at the Global Finals round, the winners of which were announced virtually on March 23rd. M7 Health won the $75,000 Grand Prize for its operations software designed by and for nurses. The $25,000 Runner-Up Prize went to Hue, whose specialized marketing embeds shoppable videos for cosmetics retailers. The Crowd Favorite Prize went to Tilden, a producer of sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails. 

HBS Professor Shikhar Ghosh, the faculty co-chair of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, spoke at the event, saying, “While we’re entering a world where exponential change is coming, things are already changing all around us. What we need is a set of entrepreneurs that are willing to step out of their comfort zone, go into the world and look at the way we organize society, medicine, education, and ourselves, because all of those things are going to change thanks to the power of technology.”

Since the first NVC in 1997, more than 6,000 HBS students and alumni have received $2,980,000 to fund new business and social impact ventures. 

See the full announcement here.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.