Harvard HealthLab Accelerators
Harvard HealthLab Accelerators (H2A) is the first accelerator at Harvard University focused on nurturing student startups geared toward social impact. Each year, we accept a cohort of 10 interdisciplinary teams working on ventures designed to advance public or planetary health. Teams receive seed funding, 1-1 mentoring from academic and industry experts, access to skill-building workshops, a guest speaker series, networking events, and an opportunity to earn additional funding from our H2L venture board. The application are now open!
The focus on social impact ventures is what differentiates H2A. H2A was founded by Harvard College’s Lemann Program on Creativity and Entrepreneurship and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Its inaugural cohort included 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 included students from Columbia, Dartmouth, MIT, the University of Quebec, and the Yale School of Public Health.
The ideas are exciting: The inaugural cohort included 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.
H2A is already expanding beyond the University. We are developing relationships with other institutions serving under-resourced communities to offer workshops. We have co-created and launched a H2A Brazil and are piloting H2A Africa as well.
Harvard HealthLab Accelerators
HealthLab aims to nurture a culture of entrepreneurship by helping turn academic insights and personal passions into startups with the potential for real-world impact. At the start of each academic year, students with ideas for building a healthier world can form teams and apply to join the cohort. HealthLab seeks to promote collaboration between Harvard undergraduates, graduate students, and the broader community. We encourage multidisciplinary teams that draw on expertise from across the university.
Selected teams will earn seed funding, receive mentoring, and attend specialized workshops designed to nurture skills in entrepreneurship as they work on their project. During the academic year teams will have the opportunity to appear before the H2A Venture Board, a group of influential players from public, private, and academic spheres. The venture board will provide invaluable feedback and in certain cases award additional funding, based on predetermined benchmarks.
Teams can apply with any idea that advances public or planetary health, on a local or global level.
HealthLab Connects is our accelerator's educational extension project. We partner with community and educational organizations to develop workshops that help students grow their critical and creative thinking skills and learn about entrepreneurship. Our goal is to inspire students of all ages and backgrounds to find their own path toward social impact. Together, we will make the world a better place.
Currently, HealthLab Connect is building partnerships with:
Meet the Team
Who is eligible?
The HealthLab accelerator program is open to teams of current students and postdocs from across the University (no faculty or staff). Teams may include individuals from outside the University as well. Priority will be given to multi-disciplinary teams that draw heavily on the expertise of students enrolled in Harvard College or Harvard graduate schools. Applicants must be early-stage ventures with less than ~ $20,000 in funding.
What ventures may apply?
We’ll gladly look at any idea or venture that offers a sustainable and empathetic solution to an intractable societal problem
Need inspiration? If your venture addresses any of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, you’ll be eligible.
What is an intractable global problem?
Intractable global problems include hunger, oppression, pollution, conflict, climate change, inequities in education, human rights violations…. just to name a few.
How do you apply to HealthLab?
To apply to HealthLab's cohort, you will need to present the following components:
A global health problem
A sustainable and empathetic solution
Your venture’s unique differentiating value
A positive theory of change
A targeted and diverse team
You can find a link to our application here.
Applications are due October 4th at 11:59pm.
Can I apply solo, or do I need a team?
You will need at least two members on your founding team. The team leader must be an enrolled, degree-seeking Harvard student. Our judging rubric for admission to the cohort awards more points for blended teams across schools and concentrations, consisting of undergraduate and graduate members with diverse backgrounds and multi-disciplinary areas of expertise. There will be a Pitch-to-Match event on September 20th before the October 4th application deadline to help you find a co-founder or other team members.
Will there be mentoring and networking opportunities?
Yes. Each team will be assigned a generalist mentor to guide them through the year. In addition, each team will get networking opportunities with members of the H2A Venture Board and other industry experts.
We will also host several networking events for our cohort, the LPCE community, the larger Harvard community, and social entrepreneurs outside Harvard's walls..
How much commitment will H2A require?
The expectation is that the members of the cohort are motivated to be there, self-selecting, and eager to take advantage of the opportunities HealthLab offers. Advancing in HealthLab after acceptance into the cohort will require the following:
Attend in person orientation October 13th, 2023
Attend meetings with paired mentor
Pitch to the H2L Venture Board and at Harvard FounderCrush on April 24
Attend virtual workshops and networking events with HealthLab Brazil and HealthLab Africa
What else can I expect if my team makes the cut and joins the cohort?
Good question. Thank you for asking. If you are accepted into our cohort, your team will receive additional opportunities to engage with other creative entrepreneurial communities on campus and beyond, including the chance to connect virtually with the HealthLab teams in Brazil and in Africa! You will also be provided with a calendar of events that will include industry experts as speakers and the chance for formal and informal networking.
In addition, you will also be given two chances to seek additional funding of up to $7500 during the program - once by appearing in front of the H2L Venture Board at a meeting in December or March and once at the final HealthLab Showcase where you will pitch in front of the Harvard HealthLab Team. The final showcase will be open to the public and you are encouraged to invite friends, family, and your mentors. At the final showcase, it’s possible that a couple of teams who have shown immense progress throughout the year may receive funding above $7500. This is at the discretion of the Harvard HealthLab Team.
You may also have the opportunity to engage with our HealthLab Connects program, which aims to bring creative entrepreneurial and public health strategies to under-resourced communities.
Are funds I receive from H2A taxable?
Yes, please know all funds from HealthLab are taxable. Harvard shall not be responsible for any applicable taxes or for increasing the funds to cover any applicable tax required to be withheld.