Applicant Rules & Eligibility 2013
The President’s Challenge is designed to help students develop and execute solutions to complex systemic problems by attacking and addressing truly important issues facing the world today. It demonstrates the University’s commitment to using the i-lab as a vehicle for bringing individuals together in cross-school initiatives and fostering a Harvard-wide entrepreneurial community.
The Challenge has two stages: first one in which teams assemble supported by i-lab programming and submit their initial proposals. After evaluation by the Judging Committee, ten teams will receive $5,000 each to further develop their proposals. The grand prize is $100,000 to be awarded to one winner and up to three runners-up.
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The President’s Challenge is open to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doctoral candidates from all Harvard schools.
Note: The rules are subject to change at any time throughout the Challenge. Participants are responsible for staying aware and updated on the rules.
The online application deadline for proposals is Sunday, February 3, 2013 (11:59 PM). Any submission after 11:59 PM will not be considered. We suggest an earlier submission to ensure that your proposal is uploaded correctly before the deadline.
You will be required to fill out information on your team and your idea, and to upload a proposal of no more than 10 pages in length including visuals and slides (4 slides per page maximum) in PDF format.
After all proposals have been submitted, ten finalist teams will be chosen by the judging committee to proceed into a second stage of development. The ten teams will be announced on in early March 2013. These ten finalist teams will each receive $5,000 to further develop their proposals. They will be assigned mentors and have access to specialized workshops, designated work space and other resources at the i-lab. All teams must finish their final proposals and any accompanying prototypes or research and prepare them for display or presentation by a date to be announced in May 2013. Teams should be prepared to give both live and recorded presentations on their proposals. There will be a Demo Day before Commencement, date also to be announced.
The judging committee will evaluate all ten teams and award a grand prize winner and up to three runners-up with a total of $100,000 to further develop their ideas after the Challenge.
APPLY NOW! Don't forget to read the instructions carefully. You may update or make changes to your application through the online system until the 11:59PM, Sunday February 3rd deadline.
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Requirements & Application information
- The President’s Challenge is open to teams that include at least one matriculated and degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate Harvard student or Harvard postdoctoral candidate who serves in a leadership role. While we encourage collaboration with entrepreneurs, scientists and executives from industry, we require that the Harvard student(s) be substantive member(s) of the founding team, and a committed leader of the venture. Note that under the terms of the Challenge, any funding or prize money can only be distributed to Harvard University students.
- The Challenge is designed with an emphasis on new ideas, not funded ideas.
- The President’s Challenge program has a number of entrepreneurs and faculty as mentors. Mentors will provide feedback, input and mentoring. Finalists must be willing to participate in this program.
- Teams may only submit one (1) proposal/application.
- Students must be on only one (1) team.
- An online application is due by Sunday, February 3rd at 11:59 PM.
The proposal should, at minimum, consist of:
- a description of the idea, which global issue it addresses, and why you believe it represents an opportunity for impact, as well as a detailed sense of any progress you have made pursuing the venture to date (partners, customers, team, etc.)
- a description of any capital invested/raised/spent to date
- the members of the team and resumes/bios/roles
- a description of the product / programs / services you intend to provide, and a detailed accounting of the specific resources you will need to accomplish this, the identified sources of those resources (e.g., web developers, prototypes, etc.) and the cost of those resources. Also indicate what resources you may already have raised or invested in the venture. During the second stage of the Challenge, you may be asked to produce invoices or receipts to show how the original prize money was invested in pursuing your proposal.
- your specific hypotheses about the underlying causes of the problem you are attacking, the reasons why you hold those hypotheses, why you believe your proposed solution will work, what data will constitute a confirmation or disconfirmation of those hypotheses, and how you will collect and analyze that data
- what specific results the first-stage $5,000 prize money is designed to provide and how the results will help the team progress with executing the proposal to provide solutions
- Note: Please keep submissions to a 10-page summary including any slides or visual components.
Finalists may be asked to present to The President’s Challenge selection committee in person, or to film a presentation. This committee will consist of Harvard faculty and practitioners or experts in each area.
All funded teams must agree to:
- follow the terms of the usage of funding associated with the Challenge;
- check-in at least weekly with a mentor from the Challenge program;
- attend announced gatherings of Challenge teams;
- present to the Judging Committee, whether pre-recorded, live on Demo Day, or both;
- present lessons learned from the Challenge and process at some point after Demo Day; and,
- participate in a "poster board" session that is open to the community at some point, possibly fall semester.
Please note that prize money is subject to taxes; however, Harvard University does not provide tax advising to students.