Harvard HealthLab (H2L) is the first accelerator at Harvard University focused on nurturing student startups geared toward social impact. Each year, we accept a cohort of 15 interdisciplinary teams working on ventures designed to advance public or planetary health. Teams receive immediate seed funding, 1-1 mentoring from academic and industry experts, access to skill-building workshops, guest speakers, and networking events, and an opportunity to earn one of three $20,000 prizes from our springboard fund. This year’s cohort has been selected and applications for next year will open in early fall 2023.
The focus on social impact ventures makes Harvard HealthLab unique. So does its interdisciplinary nature. H2L was founded by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard College Lemann Program on Creativity and Entrepreneurship and its inaugural cohort includes both undergraduates and public health students – as well as graduate students from disciplines as diverse as business, design, education, engineering, government, law, and medicine. Teams also include students from Columbia, Dartmouth, MIT, the University of Quebec, and the Yale School of Public Health.
The ideas are exciting: The inaugural cohort includes a team designing a virtual reality platform to deliver therapy shaped by biofeedback technology and artificial intelligence; a project to create affordable and highly efficient water filtration systems using discarded wood; a mobile platform to help patients in rural India connect with trusted clinicians; a privacy-protected app to create a supportive community for women struggling with infertility; and much more.
Harvard HealthLab is already expanding beyond the University. The staff is developing relationships with Boston nonprofits serving low-income students and plans to bring entrepreneurship workshops to both high schools and community colleges. In addition, a Brazilian version of HealthLab is in development.