Winning ventures announced at the 2018 President’s Innovation Challenge

A device toolkit that makes STEM education truly engaging, a mobile app for helping small businesses in emerging markets improve their performance, and a startup that’s revolutionising the treatment of ear infections were awarded the three top prizes in the seventh annual President’s Innovation Challenge showcase and awards ceremony at the Harvard Innovation Labs.

President Drew Faust of Harvard University awarded each of the three student ventures, STEMgem, OZÉ, and PionEar, with $75,000 in prize money from the Bertarelli Foundation to help them turn their ideas into impactful, real-world ventures.

Three runners-up, which received $25,000 in prizes, were FinWeGo, a workplace financial wellness platform that helps employers provide affordable and convenient credit to their employees; Jump Credit, helping nonprofits provide free, instant, personalized credit advice to economically vulnerable clients; and X-Cor Therapeutics, which is working on a cheaper and safer extracorporeal COremoval (ECCOR) therapy for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Based on an audience vote, the second annual Crowd Favorite prize of $10,000 was given to Mozambique School Lunch Initiative, which is investing in community-owned school lunch programs to improve childhood nutrition in Mozambique.

This year, prizes for the President’s Innovation Challenge were exclusively funded by the Bertarelli Foundation, which announced the President’s Innovation Challenge Fund in October 2017 to support the winners of the competition for the next five years. This gift extends the Bertarelli Foundation’s previous backing of student-led ventures at Harvard, which began in 2013 when the foundation funded the Deans’ Health and Life Sciences Challenge at the Harvard Innovation Labs.

Ernesto Bertarelli, co-chair of the Bertarelli Foundation said:

“Bringing students together from diverse backgrounds and industries to solve complex global challenges has the power to change millions of people’s lives.  We’re therefore delighted to partner with the Harvard Innovation Labs and to have established the Bertarelli Prize Fund for the winners of the President’s Challenge. I look forward to seeing what the winning ventures from 2018 accomplish in the years to come.”

PionEar co-founder Ida Pavlichenko, winner of the grand prize in the Health or Life Science category, said on hearing the news:

“Winning the President’s Innovation Challenge will play a significant role in helping us commercialise our product.”

The President’s Innovation Challenge is open to any Harvard student or postdoc across the 12 Harvard Schools. This year, a record 460 teams entered the competition — more than double the previous year. Teams competed across three tracks — Social Impact or Cultural Enterprise, Health or Life Science, and Open Track for ideas that transcended categories. All 15 finalists showcased their products and services at the event, and gave one-minute pitches onstage prior to President Faust announcing the winners.

 

Bertarelli Foundation President’s Innovation Challenge Fund at Harvard Business School

The Bertarelli Foundation is pleased to announce that through its gift to Harvard University, the Bertarelli Foundation President’s Innovation Challenge Fund has been established at Harvard Business School.

Ernesto Bertarelli commented:

“We are delighted to support the President’s Innovation Challenge Fund, building once again on our existing relationship with Harvard.  Our aim is to help Harvard find and support the next generation of entrepreneurs with bold ideas and the commitment to see those become reality. With the support of the remarkable community of teachers and innovators at the School, I am confident this Fund will continue to help fuse the scientific vision and the passion for business that Harvard inspires amongst its students.”

Established in 2012, the President’s Innovation Challenge was established to encourage members of the Harvard community to engage with issues facing the world and to spark the creative development of solutions that will address vexing social, medical, and scientific problems. In 2017, more than 200 student teams from across Harvard University competed in the Challenge.

In 2013, the Bertarelli Foundation funded the Deans’ Health and Life Sciences Challenge at the Harvard i-lab. This new commitment to the President’s Innovation Challenge Fund will extend the Bertarelli Foundation’s generosity to a broader range of early stage ventures and enable creative ideas to flourish at Harvard and beyond. In recognition of this new gift, the winners of the President’s Innovation Challenge will be awarded Bertarelli Foundation Prizes each year for the next five years.

Harvard President Drew Faust said of the gift:

“Whether it’s the development of safe and affordable surgical kits that are easily transportable to places in need of medical resources, a venture working to accelerate advances in artificial intelligence, or the scores of other projects that have been part of the President’s Innovation Challenge, the program has helped unleash the entrepreneurial and creative spirit of the Harvard community.  Making progress toward solutions to global problems requires new thinking that transcends boundaries and disciplines, and we are very grateful to the Bertarelli Foundation for the vision and generosity they have shown in their support of this community of innovators dedicated to that task.”

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria added:

“We see countless examples of the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in finding solutions to society’s most intractable challenges.  The Bertarelli Foundation’s generous gift will fuel the entrepreneurial spirit that exists across the University by ensuring that students have the resources to bring their game-changing ideas to fruition.”

 

 

Babson College Names William B. Gartner as Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship

Professorship endowed by the Bertarelli family’s Foundation will expand the College’s deep-rooted commitment to family entrepreneurs

Babson College, ranked No. 1 for entrepreneurship, has announced the appointment of William B. Gartner as its first Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship— endowed by the Bertarelli Foundation through a substantial gift to the college.

Building on Babson College’s long history of educating family entrepreneurs and advancing the study of family entrepreneurship, Professor Gartner will lead a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching and studying family entrepreneurship with an emphasis on expanding the entrepreneurial mindset and skillset across generations to ensure family entrepreneurs are equipped to create economic and social value in any context.

Gartner is universally recognized as a thought leader and leading scholar in the area of entrepreneurship, published across a variety of publications including Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Academy of Management Review, Small Business Economics, Journal of Business Venturing, and many more. He will be a tenured full professor in Babson’s Entrepreneurship Division.

“We are pleased to welcome Professor Gartner as Babson’s first Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship,” said Babson College President Kerry Healey. “For nearly a century, Babson has been at the forefront of educating entrepreneurial families and providing research and programming to help family enterprises achieve continued growth and innovation. Thanks to the generosity of the Bertarelli Foundation, Professor Gartner’s globally-recognized thought leadership in entrepreneurship, and Babson’s ongoing investments in this field, we will continue to make great strides in supporting entrepreneurial business families.”

Family businesses were the core of Babson’s founding mission in 1919 and, today, 40 percent of the school’s undergraduate students and 70 percent of full-time MBA students hail from family enterprises. In 2005, Babson was the first to launch a global research study focused on entrepreneurship in families. Through the Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurship Practices (STEP) Project, Babson has convened and collaborated with 35 academic affiliates and 175 scholars to publish 11 books and 120 cases focused on family entrepreneurship across generations.

“I am thrilled to be at the No. 1 institution for entrepreneurship in the world, around colleagues who are leaders and pioneers in entrepreneurial research and teaching, and working with students who have a great reputation as creative organizers,” said Gartner. “Family business is an exciting area of entrepreneurship. As Babson’s mission and vision is global, and the college was founded on the principles of family business, I am excited to explore the various ways that families serve as the foundation for entrepreneurial activity all around the world.”

Ernesto Bertarelli said: “In establishing this Chair, our aim is to enable new avenues of research and thought in an area of scholarship that is central to successful entrepreneurship and to how future family business leaders adapt to an ever-changing world. We are delighted that, in Professor Gartner, Babson College has a world class academic who, as the first Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor, will challenge orthodox approaches and build a team to help lead Babson forward in this vital field.”

William B. Gartner

In addition to serving as the Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship at Babson College, Gartner is also a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at Linnaeus University in Vaxjo, Sweden. He has served in various academic positions at the University of Virginia, Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, Clemson University, San Francisco State University, ESSEC in Paris, and, the Copenhagen Business School. He is the 2005 winner of the Swedish Entrepreneurship Foundation International Award for outstanding contributions to entrepreneurship and small business research. His book: Entrepreneurship as Organizing was recently published in a paperback edition by Edward Elgar. His scholarship has focused on a variety of topics in the entrepreneurship field: entrepreneurial behavior, the social construction of the future, value creation and appropriation, possibility and failure, “translating entrepreneurship” across cultures and countries, the poetics of exchange, and, the demographics of family entrepreneurship. Gartner received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1982.

About Babson College

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®. The top-ranked college for entrepreneurship education, Babson is a dynamic living and learning laboratory where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society. We prepare the entrepreneurial leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to make a difference in the world, and have an impact on organizations of all sizes and types. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value.

UrSure Inc. win the 2017 Bertarelli Prize at Harvard University’s iLab

For the last several years, the Bertarelli Foundation has proudly sponsored Harvard University’s Innovation Lab.  More specifically, we have provided the Bertarelli Prize, which is awarded to the winner of the ‘Health & Life Science Track’ in the annual President’s Innovation Challenge.

The Innovation Challenge supports Harvard students on their journey to turn their desire for a better world into a sustainable venture. This year’s finalists responded to the desperate need for innovation within the health and life sciences industry, as well as solve social issues (equitability, sustainability and safety), and also innovate in other areas that transcend the Challenge categories.

This year, more than 200 student teams applied to participate in the Innovation Challenge with the finalists being selected by a committee of more than 150 judges with a wide array of industry experiences.

In March, five finalists were selected for the 2017 Bertarelli Prize:

  • Day Zero Diagnostics combines genome sequencing and machine learning to modernise infectious disease diagnosis.
  • GEMS Samaritan Stations has developed a smart devices that reduces emergency response time by turning bystanders into first responders when every second counts.
  • Jane Diagnostics has produced an innovative, low-cost, accurate, rapid, and easy-to-use HPV diagnostic chip for early detection of cervical cancer.
  • Nanoshear has created a nanotechnology-based liquid embolic agent for immediate haemorrhage control in vascular injuries and bleeding patients.
  • UrSure Inc. prevents HIV by focusing on protecting vulnerable populations from infection.

Given the exceptional quality of all the finalists, it was a very difficult decision for the prize judges to select the winners; ultimately however, UrSure Inc. was awarded the Bertarelli Prize of $75,000 and Jane Diagnostics were awarded the runner-up prize of $25,000.

The team behind UrSure are no strangers to the Bertarelli Prize, having participated in the competition in 2016.  In the year which followed, Giffin Daughtridge and Helen Koenig were able to refine both their product and their business plan and ultimately impress the prize judges.

Ernesto Bertarelli commented:

I’d like to congratulate all the finalists and entrants for the Bertarelli Prize.  I’m confident that by taking part in the Challenge over the last year, you will have refined your business ideas and embraced the entrepreneurial spirit which is so important if you are to succeed in your ambition.

I’m delighted that Giffin and Helen of UrSure Inc. have been able to develop such an important medical tool which shows great promise in helping to reduce HIV infection.  I will watch the development of their company very carefully.

UrSure’s CEO and founder Giffin Daughtridge, commented:

Winning the Bertarelli Prize is an absolute game-changer for us.  We had enough funding to get through the next couple of months, but this will help us accelerate our timeline.