Rules, Eligibility and FAQs

Rules and Eligibility

The President’s Innovation Challenge is open to teams that include at least one matriculated, full-time and degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate Harvard student, Harvard postdoctoral fellow or clinical fellow. While we encourage collaboration with entrepreneurs, scientists, and executives from industry, we require that the Harvard student(s) be a founder and a committed leader of the venture.

  • Teams may only submit one (1) Participation Declaration and (1) 5-page Business Plan.
  • Applicants may only be on one (1) Participation Declaration and (1) 5-page Business Plan.
  • Use of the i-lab and its resources will be subject to the i-lab’s Terms of Use.
  • We reserve the right to disqualify any Participation Declaration or 5-Page Business Plan that we, in our sole and absolute discretion, determine do not fit within the parameters of the Challenge.
  • All participants MUST submit a Participation Declaration by December 5 in order to remain eligible to submit a complete business plan on February 6.
  • Final 5-page business plans submitted without a Participation Declaration being approved will not be accepted or considered.


What if I only have an idea?
We want you to apply. Your idea will be judged on the potential impact of the idea and the strength of the project implementation plan. We aim for this to be as equal of a playing field as possible, whether you just came up with this idea in a class, or you have been working on it for 12 months.

How can I get involved at the i-lab before submitting an application?
The i-lab is a resource for all full-time, degree-seeking Harvard students. We will have many programs and resources leading up to the Challenge deadline that are not specifically related to the Challenge. We strongly recommend that you keep up to date with our events, as well as book office hours if you have specific questions about your idea/venture.

I’ve already entered this idea in another contest or challenge, can I still enter The President’s Innovation Challenge?
You are welcome to enter your ideas anywhere in addition to the President’s Innovation Challenge. We are not looking for exclusivity, but to develop the best ideas and bring solutions to fruition.

What criteria will the Judging Committee use?
We welcome you to preview the judging rubric here.

Does my idea have to be non-profit?
No. We welcome both for-profit and non-profit ideas.

I am a Harvard Alumnus, can I apply?
Only as part of a team that includes at least one matriculated and degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate Harvard student or Harvard postdoctoral candidate who is an originator of the idea/technology/venture and actively serves in a leadership role.

Does Harvard own the intellectual property (IP) associated with my proposal?
Your participation in the Challenge – including winning a prize or using i-lab facilities and resources to develop inventions, software, copyrighted works or unpatented materials as part of the Challenge – will not, in and of itself, give Harvard any rights in those developments. If Harvard is otherwise entitled to rights in such a development under its Intellectual Property Policy – for example, because the development involves work done under a sponsored research agreement administered by Harvard or with other financial support from Harvard – the fact that you participated in the Challenge or used i-lab facilities or resources to work on the development will not eliminate or diminish Harvard’s rights.