BOSTON—It was a big night for big ideas in the health care field yesterday at Harvard Business School’s annual New Venture Competition (NVC) Finale.
Two of the three grand prize winners, Astraeus Technologies and UrSure, Inc., focused on health care, creating better, faster tests for lung cancer screening and HIV prevention drug adherence, respectively. The third grand prize winner, Cobli, aims to improve car fleet logistics in the huge Brazilian market.
Three of the four runner-up and crowd favorite prize winners also addressed health care issues. Confi is an online resource for women’s health issues and sexual assault prevention, EverlyWell provides at-home health testing kits and comprehensible lab results, and ConnectHealth, Inc. offers private consultations with qualified doctors through mobile phones. Getaway, meanwhile, designs tiny houses and rents them out as escapes from city life.
The competition awards a total of $300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes across the student and alumni competitions. The full list of Tuesday’s winners is as follows:
Student Business Track
Astraeus Technologies, Dubilier $50,000 Grand Prize Winner
Getaway, $25,000 Satchu-Burgstone Runner-Up
BrainSpec, $2,000 Crowd Favorite
Student Social Enterprise Track
UrSure, Inc., Peter M. Sacerdote $50,000 Grand Prize Winner
Confi, Peter M. Sacerdote $25,000 Runner-Up
Confi, $2,000 Crowd Favorite
Cobli, $50,000 Grand Prize Winner
EverlyWell, $25,000 Runner-Up
ConnectHealth, Inc., $2,000 Crowd Favorite
The New Venture Competition is hosted by the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship and the Social Enterprise Initiative and is open to all students and alumni interested in launching new business and social impact ventures. Rock Center Director Jodi Gernon (MBA 1991) began the Finale by saying that the Competition has had more than 3,000 students participate from across the Harvard ecosystem and has awarded over $2.5 million in prize money throughout its history. Companies like Birchbox, Rent the Runway, and CloudFlare have all participated and gone on to achieve significant success in their respective fields.
Matt Segneri (MBA 2010), the director of the Social Enterprise Initiative, noted that HBS was the first business school to launch such an initiative over 20 years ago and its footprint has grown significantly since. The Social Enterprise track of the NVC began in 2001, has had 437 teams participate to date, and had a record 62 teams participate this year from across the University, which Segneri said displayed "one Harvard at its best."
“The greatest risk is the fear of failure,” said Professor of Business Administration William Sahlman to the assembled crowd in his introductory remarks. “We have to take responsibility for fixing the world’s problems, and look at those problems as opportunities.”
Jeff Sandefer (MBA 1986), teacher and founder of the Acton School of Business and Acton Academy, also offered poignant remarks as the guest speaker, drawing from his entrepreneurial journey and his vision for the future.
"A hero's journey in entrepreneurship can change the world," Sandefer told the live audience. "Live with a mission and remember to see setbacks as lessons."
About The Arthur Rock Center: The Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship was created through the generosity of prominent venture capitalist Arthur Rock (MBA 1951), who donated $25 million to Harvard Business School to support the entrepreneurship faculty and their research, fellowships for MBA and doctoral students, symposia and conferences, and outreach efforts to extend the impact of the School's extensive work in this field. HBS offered the country's first business school course in entrepreneurship in 1947 and, today, entrepreneurship is one of the largest faculty units at the School, with over 30 faculty members conducting entrepreneurship research and teaching. The Rock Center works closely with the HBS California Research Center in Silicon Valley on entrepreneurship-related research and course development efforts.
About the Social Enterprise Initiative: The Social Enterprise Initiative applies innovative business practices and managerial disciplines to drive sustained, high-impact social change. It's grounded in the mission of Harvard Business School and aims to educate, inspire, and support leaders across all sectors to tackle society’s toughest challenges and make a difference in the world.