In April, Harvard students and alumni will compete for $300,000 in cash prizes to fund their startup dreams in the 20th Anniversary New Venture Competition. The School is offering its biggest prizes to date, with a $75,000 Grand Prize for top winners in the Student Business, Student Social Enterprise, and Alumni competitions. Additional prizes are a $25,000 Runner-Up Prize, $5,000 Audience Award, and in-kind services. Previously the Grand Prize was $50,000 in each category.

More than 800 people are expected to attend the competition's Finale on campus on Tuesday, April 25, when the winners will be revealed. The keynote speaker will be Anthony Tan (MBA 2011), Group CEO and co-founder of GrabTaxi Holdings, the largest tech startup in Southeast Asia, which won the 2011 New Venture Competition.

The Social Enterprise Track became part of the competition in 2001, and provides an opportunity for students to explore social entrepreneurship and test ideas for social innovation in a rigorous and supportive environment. Graduate students across Harvard University enter with new ventures that drive social change using nonprofit, for-profit, or hybrid models.

Past winners and runners-up in the Social Enterprise Track include:
  • Careport Health, which unlocks data from post-acute care provides to better manage care across the continuum
  • Confi, providing expert-approved advice on sensitive health topics
  • Jana Care, using mobile diagnostic platforms to build local solutions for global chronic diseases
  • Saathi, making biodegradable sanitary pads from banana fiber in India
  • Tomato Jos, helping smallholder farmers become expert tomato growers to serve local markets

"The New Venture Competition has catalyzed the creation of cutting-edge social enterprises at HBS and across Harvard University," said Matt Segneri (MBA 2010), Director of the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative, which manages the social enterprise track. "The winning teams developed innovative approaches - using for-profit, nonprofit and hybrid models - to tacke society's toughest challenges, including HIV prevention and K-12 education reform."

"The New Venture Competition is critical to entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School," said Jodi Gernon (MBA 1991), Director of the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, which oversees the student and alumni business tracks of the competition. "Competition winners say it was the launching point of their businesses, helped them to attract funding, and gave them the confidence, exposure, and skills to found companies."