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Undergraduate innovators put imagination to work

Winners of the Harvard College Innovation Challenge (I3) developed classroom software, mobile gaming apps, and an e-marketplace platform

At an event held in Maxwell Dworkin on March 31, the winners of the Harvard College Innovation Challenge (I3), organized by the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH), Harvard Student Agencies and the Harvard College Entrepreneurship Forum, were announced. 108 Harvard students, representing 27 different concentrations and all 12 Harvard houses, participated in the annual competition that showcases and rewards innovative student ventures (both commercial and social startups).

The evening reception and awards ceremony featured the 20 semifinalists of the competition. Visitors, who ranged from Harvard faculty, staff, and students to CEOs, venture capitalists, and alumni entrepreneurs, had the opportunity to learn about the projects firsthand from the creators.

The Digital Literacy Project (DigiLit) won the top social entrepreneurship award, comprised of a $15,000 McKinley Family grant for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Leadership in a Social Enterprise.

The team, including Tiffany Au '12 (Engineering Sciences), Melissa Oppenheim '12 (History and Science) and Anthony Fazio '11 (Economics), developed software to integrate the XO laptop (part of the One Laptop per Child initiative) into developing world classrooms. DigiLit is currently hosting two pilot projects in Boston and recently completed a test in Managua, Nicaragua.

Uniplay Worldwide, created by Christopher Simmons '11 (Computer Science), Andre Gabriel '11 (Sociology and Statistics), and Jin-ah Kim (Bentley College), won the $10,000 runner-up McKinley Family grant for a commercial enterprise. Their venture is a developer of mobile gaming applications.

Uniplay's first project is a game of mobile tag, similar to the popular campus phenomenon "Assassin." By exploiting location-based technologies, relevant advertisements, such as local store promotions, are pushed to the users' mobile devices. Watch for an app to be made available soon.

William Marks '12 (Engineering Sciences) was among those named as a finalist for the McKinley Family commercial enterprise grant with his team, KeenLean.com. The service and mobile application allows millions of users to make healthier choices about what they eat. Based upon where the user is eating (and what they have eaten in the past), the app makes suggestions about optimal nutritional choices.

Kane Hsieh '12 (Computer Science), Sasank Konda '12 (Computer Science) and Calvin McEachron '12 (Computer Science) shared the Harvard Student Agencies investment award for their electronic marketplace project CrimsonList. The other HSA investment award winners were Tutor Bazaar and College Confidant.  HSA also awarded its New Agency Award to Talent Management, which helps artistic students reach their professional potential.

The HSA winning teams will share a $5,000 cash prize and each of the teams will receive access to Harvard Student Agencies office space, IT, e-commerce, accounting, and back-office support,

The TECH Award for Outstanding Senior Team went to Yifan Zhang '10 and Charlene Wang '10 for Styleta.com, a nonprofit enterprise that has created an online marketplace for the sale of clothing donations to benefit charities focused on women's initiatives.

All winning teams will also be invited to spend the summer in the new Innovation Space located in Harvard Square.

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About the Harvard College Innovation Challenge (I3)

Harvard undergraduates of all interests and concentrations (as well as entrepreneurs from across Boston and beyond who have at least one Harvard College student on their team) can compete to win summer funding and space by submitting plans for projects in the following two tracks:

  • Commercial Startups and HSA
  • Social Startups and HSA

The I³ Innovation Challenge is organized by the Harvard College Entrepreneurship ForumHarvard Student Agencies, Inc., and the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard.

Sponsorship is provided by:

Topics: Entrepreneurship

Scientist Profiles

William Marks

Associate in Electrical Engineering