MITdesignX presents ventures from sixth cohort

Annual “Pitch Day” showcases innovative designs that deliver improved quality of life 

By Maria Iacobo

MITdesignX, the venture design accelerator based in the School of Architecture and Planning, held its yearly “Pitch Day” on May 17, affording eleven teams the opportunity to present the services and products developed within the program. The interdisciplinary academic program — which has already launched successful start-ups created by students, researchers, faculty, and their collaborators — empowers teams to build new business ventures to address critical challenges facing the future of cities and the environment. 

“Each year we see an increase in the intensity and urgency of the ventures emerging from MITdesignX,” says Gilad Rosenzweig, the program’s executive director. “We are so excited to see another eleven new startup teams tackling some of the world’s greatest problems, from endangered food supplies to toxic pollution, lack of adequate housing to threats on democracy. Solutions to these challenges begin here today.”

The program’s sixth cohort, consisting of 25 individuals, presented detailed and focused pitches before a panel of three judges, an on-site audience, and several hundred viewers watching the livestream event. Judging this year’s cohort were: Yscaira Jimenez, founder of LaborX; Magnus Ingi Oskarsson of Eyrir Venture Management, Reykjavik, Iceland; and Frank Pawlitschek, director, HPI School of Entrepreneurship, Potsdam, Germany. The judges deliberated to identify the top teams based on three criteria: most innovative; greatest impact; and best presentation. This year’s competition was so strong that the judges delivered an additional two honorable mentions. 

This year’s awardees are:

Innovation Award: Atacama — Developing biomaterials to replace plastics and make the world more sustainable.

Paloma Gonzalez-Rojas, PhD 2021 Design and Computation 

Jose Tomas Dominguez

Jose Antonio Gonzalez


Impact Award: Grain Box — Optimizing the post-harvest supply chain for smallholder farmers in rural India.

Mona Vijaykumar, SMArchS - Urbanism Candidate ‘22                      

T.R. (Radha) Radhakrishnan


Presentation Award: Lamarr.AI — An autonomous solution for rapid building envelope diagnostics using AI and cloud computing.

Norhan Bayomi, PhD MIT Building Technology 2022

Tarek Rakha, MIT Doctor of Philosophy, Building Technology and Sustainable Design, 2012 - 2015 

John E. Fernandez, Director and Professor, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative; BSAD, Architecture and Civil Engineering 1982-85

Mohanned ElKholy '22; MEng, Machine Learning  2023


Honorable mentions:

News Detective — A platform combining moderated crowdsourcing, professional factchecking. and AI to fight misinformation on social media.

Ilana Strauss MCP 23


La Firme — Digitizing architectural services to reach families who self-build their homes in Latin America. 

Mora Orensanz MCP '21

Fiorella Belli Ferro MCP '21

Raul Briceno Brignole Sloan MBA '23