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The i-lab is proud to announce the grand-prize winner and three runners-up in this year’s Challenge! Nucleik will be awarded $70,000 for their efforts to support law enforcement in fighting gang violence and lowering violent crime via their software management information system, which provides instantaneous access to accurate and organized data to law enforcement officers.
“I spoke with the members of Team Nucleik earlier this month at the President’s Challenge Demo Day and was struck by their commitment to pursuing an idea and applying what they had learned in the classroom to improve the lives of others,” said President Drew Faust. “They’ve built a tool that will help law enforcement professionals better serve and protect communities across the country, and their inspiring work is something I will follow with great interest in the months and years ahead.”
The team, comprising three Harvard College seniors--computer science concentrators Scott Crouch (’13), Florian Mayr (’13), Matthew Polega (’13)--formed in response to the first hand observations the impact violent crime can have on a community and the every-day struggles of enforcement officers, which they noticed when they went to Springfield, MA during a spring 2012 engineering design seminar field trip. They began the platform as a class project and launched in Springfield last year; they are currently in talks to launch in other major metropolitan police departments.
Along with Nucleik, three other finalist teams—Flume, PlenOptika and TerraTek—were recognized in the President’s Challenge. Named runners-up in the competition, the teams tackle the complexity and potential behind understanding the human genome, the lack of affordable eye care in developing countries, and the challenges of registering for property rights and gaining access to public benefits in developing markets.
The three runners-up will each receive $10,000 to support the development of their ventures.
Team Flume is building a comprehensive and up-to-date map of the human genome through a crowdsourced webtool. They hope access to their map will give researchers and clinicians information that provides comprehensive understanding of human biology, helping experts better understand diseases and supporting their efforts to fight them.
Team PlenOptika aims to distribute a device that can quickly test a person’s vision and provide the best off-the-shelf prescription. The project promises to bring adequate vision care to areas where professionals are in low supply. Over 1 billion people have poor vision because they don’t have the eyeglasses they need.
Team TerraTek is developing a two-sided platform that allows individuals to more easily secure property rights so they can obtain credit and other social benefits and governments of developing countries to expand their property rights databases to expand their revenue and plan more effectively. They are launching the TerraTek platform this summer in Medellín, Colombia.
“The caliber of ideas that the judging committee considered this year was astounding, and it was very difficult for my fellow judges and me to choose from among the finalist teams—a wonderful problem to have in just the second year of the competition,” said Provost Alan Garber, co-chair of the judging committee.
“The members of the teams that split this year’s prize brought fresh perspectives and diverse backgrounds to tackle challenges related to crisis management, the environment, health, and learning. The range of issues they are addressing through their projects is a testament to the creativity and skills of students across the University—and to the success that follows when the connect with one another to identify and purse common goals.”
Student learning throughout the challenge matched the scope of the ideas.
“I love being involved in all aspects of a real product; the ability to create something and watch it unfold in front of you is just so unique to entrepreneurship and that’s why I love doing it,” said Crouch. “It’s not about the money or the product, it’s about putting something you built in the hands of other people and watching it affect their lives.”
Read more about the winners in the Harvard Gazette.