Funding Opportunity

Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize

The Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize supports student and faculty efforts to start a sustainable for-profit business through cash prizes totaling $25,000. The competition provides feedback from professional judges, extensive mentoring from faculty, and opportunities for participants to meet and pitch their ideas to venture capitalists and industry leaders.


Awarded each spring, the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize supports innovative student and faculty ideas for a for-profit business that advances a more sustainable way of life. Past winners include an online social platform to expand the adoption of solar power, a software package for improving forest inventory data, and a sustainable protein producer.

The competition provides participants with constructive feedback from experienced judges, opportunities to collaborate with faculty experts, and dedicated time to discuss ideas and strategy with top venture capitalists and leading industry professionals. Sabin winners also receive cash prizes totaling $25,000. Applications can be found on the "Get Involved" tab. 

The program was created in 2008 with the generous support of the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation. It is managed by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) and seeks to:

  1. Stimulate applications of entrepreneurship and innovation to address issues of sustainability;
  2. Promote multi-disciplinary approaches to environmental/social problem solving;
  3. Generate ideas that are scalable, achievable, quantifiable, and financeable; and
  4. Educate about how entrepreneurs turn a concept into a successful reality.


SAVE THE DATE! We are excited to be a part of #StartUpYale again this year, to be held on April 20, 2018.


This year Yale Center for Business and the Environment, InnovateHealth Yale, and Yale Entrepreneurial Institute will be awarding over 100K in prize money for new ventures: 

To make it easier for students, we are using a streamlined application process with ONE application for all prizes.

Application will open in January 2018.


Please see FAQs below, and if you have more questions reach out to Cass Walker at

What is the difference between the various prizes at Yale through YEI?

Each prize has a different theme:

  • Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize: Environmental or Sustainability challenges
  • Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education: Social innovation in the fields of health or education.
  • Aetna Foundation Prize for Health Equity Innovation: Reducing health disparities in the United States through technology
  • Miller Prize: disruptive tech or tech-enabled service


Can I apply to more than one prize?

Yes. In the application form, you can select which prizes you would like to be considered for.


Am I eligible?

At least one team member must be a full-time current Yale student.


Who are the judges?

There are different judging panels for each prize. Each judging panel is made up of experts in the relevant field, including industry experts, academics, entrepreneurs and investors. The Sustainable Venture Prize has judges which are concentrated at the intersection of business and the environment.


Does my venture have to be a for-profit or not-profit?

To win the Sustainable Venture Prize your venture must be a for-profit start-up.

(Please note though, that it is not required for the venture to be incorporated before competing for Yale Prizes)


What stage should my idea be?

Your idea can be at any stage. The judges want to see that the $25k will be catalytic. However, if you can show that you have spoken to customers/users/beneficiaries or have a prototype of your product/service – this is seen favorably. We have seen teams who have been working on their idea for as little as 3 months, or as long as several years, win prizes in the past!


Does it matter where in the process I am?

Regardless of whether your venture is in the Ideation, Pursuing, Executing or Prototyping phase, your application will allow you to demonstrate your commitment towards thinking through the various entrepreneurial elements. Furthermore, regardless of which phase you are in, your application will highlight how much you have learnt through the application process and how robust your idea has consequently become.


What is the difference between Ideation, Pursuing, Executing and Prototyping?

Ideation indicates that you have a basic idea with very high level thoughts around your business model and value proposition. Everyone starts here at some point. Pursuing indicates that you are actively implementing the business by developing the business model or some form of minimum viable product. People in the Executing phase have taken the next step by demonstrating a commitment of time and energy to realize something of tangible value for their efforts. Prototyping shows that you have developed your product and service in a rough format which you are trialing.


What is the timeline?

Final Applications are due March 28, 2018 at 11:59pm. Finalists will be notified by April 10, 2018 if they have been chosen to pitch at Startup Yale. Four teams will be chosen to pitch live to a panel of judges at Startup Yale, April 20th, 2017.


What do I get if I win?

A $25,000 cash prize. In addition, for the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize you receive:

  • Automatic acceptance to YEI Summer Fellowship, including $15,000 stipend, 8 week incubator program and mentorship
  • $10,000 of probono customer insight and strategy support from Flamingo


Who has won in the past?

To see past winners and finalists, check out the following links:


Can my business idea be an international venture and not necessarily within the USA?

Yes, ideas can be anywhere globally. Therefore, both domestic and international.


What are my chances of winning?

Every application is considered holistically and has an equal and fair opportunity to win. Each prize receives varying amounts of entrees. Historically, we have received between six and ten applications for the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize. To increase your chances further, we would encourage you to apply to more than one YEI prize.


To what extent is the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize orientated towards environmental sustainability?

The primary objective is to ensure that your for-profit venture seeks to advance a more sustainable way of life. Many of these businesses tend to be within the environmental ecosystem. Applications from food companies, agricultural businesses, air quality improvement ventures and water purification projects have been well received. Furthermore, previous successful entrants have also been tech orientated by creating platforms to promote solar power and forest inventory.

Resources as you prepare your application

Mentorship: To help you apply for and win $25k, we will match you with a mentor/industry expert who will work with you during the Spring semester. This application is optional, but we strongly encourage you to take advantage of this resource if you are planning to apply to the prize. 

By submitting a Mentorship Application we will :

  • Match you with at least one mentor from the CBEY and Yale extended network. This mentor will commit a minimum of 2 hours to help you prepare your application to the Sabin Prize
  • Provide two individual communication sessions with our Communications Coach, Julie Vance. See below to see how Julie has helped past winners!
  • Applicaiton to be matched with a mentor coming soon!  Deadline to submit an application will be January 31, 2018.

"Julie is an amazing resource!  She has turned presentation skills into a science and does an excellent job providing extremely specific and actionable feedback (e.g. focusing on voice intonation, body posture, team positioning).  It's clear she cares - she invests herself in the success of each and every one of her coaching students." - Claire Schlemme, Co-Founder of Renewal Mill and winner of 2016 Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize


Office Hours: Meet with a member of our team for one-on-one advice and consultation.

  • Visit us during our office hours to discuss process, questions or anything on your mind about this prize. Sign ups will open soon.
  • Meet with Cass Walker Harvey for feedback and connections to other resources at Yale. Email her to schedule a meeting (

The Lecture Series

Along with the award, the Sabin Sustainable Venture is comprised of a lecture series dedicated to business and the environment.  

The focus of this year's series is on urban innovators: Bright Lights, Green Sights is a speaker series designed to explore environmental leadership within an urban setting. Urban populations have the greatest willingness to pay for environmental services yet are often the ones whose needs are least met.  Over the year, we will welcome six diverse speakers to campus to reflect on their entrepreneurial endeavors and discuss opportunities available for improving environmental outcomes while working in cities. 

People & Partners

Previous Events (22)