The most innovative startup ideas from across campus are coming together April 14-15 at Evans Hall for Entrepreneurship Across Yale, an event featuring Yale’s biggest entrepreneurship prizes with live pitching competitions, judging and prize presentations.
At stake are three $25,000 prizes—the Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education, sponsored by InnovateHealth Yale; the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize, sponsored by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY); and the Miller Prize, sponsored by the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI), which will support a venture in Big Data, Internet of Things or Materials Science. Another $16,000 in prize money will be given out as part of the Yale Venture Challenge, sponsored by the Yale Entrepreneurial Society (YES).
“This event is a true display of the talent and innovation happening all across Yale’s campus,” says Jim Boyle, managing director of YEI. This year marks the first that winners of the Thorne, Sabin and Miller Prizes receive automatic acceptance into the YEI Fellowship, a 10-week bootcamp for accelerating ventures that provides an additional $15,000 in support along with workshops, mentorship and pitching experience.
“Each year we see increased interest in social ventures and multidisciplinary teams coming together to solve major public health challenges,” says Martin Klein, Associate Dean at Yale School of Public Health and Director of InnovateHealth Yale. Last year’s Thorne Prize winner was StoryTime, an educational technology startup that brings early literacy to low-income families via text message and is now piloting with over 3,000 families. Cofounder Phil Esterman (YC ’17) participated in a YEI Fellowship last year and is serving as a Student Mentor this year at InnovateHealth Yale.
Stuart DeCew, Program Director at CBEY, says they are continuing to build resources around social ventures in the environmental space, from a speaker series to bringing on experts like Peter Boyd, Senior Advisor & Climate Lead for the B Team, a group of global leaders working toward a better way of doing business. “The Sabin and other Yale prizes are encouraging students and faculty to think big about solving global problems,” says DeCew. “Our goal is to provide support and resources to ventures that have the capacity to have a real impact on people and the planet.” Two Forestry & Environmental Studies students won the Sabin Prize last year for their business, Poda Foods, which sells food-grade cricket protein for use in more sustainable food products.
The Yale Venture Challenge has been part of the Yale ecosystem for the past decade and provides another avenue for ventures to receive feedback. YES President Emeritus Brian Lei says: “The Yale Venture Challenge is an excellent opportunity for students to hone their entrepreneurial skills and learn from a great panel of experienced investors and entrepreneurs.” General Semantics, a software package that visualizes data from Internet-connected devices developed by students from Yale College and SOM, won the Yale Venture Challenge Prize last year.
This year’s event will include a lunchtime keynote by Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, a renowned Silicon Valley accelerator for seed-stage startups. Successful companies that have participated in Y Combinator’s program include Airbnb, Dropbox and Zenefits.
Entrepreneurship Across Yale will be held Thurs., April 14, 6-8pm (Yale Venture Challenge) and Fri., April 15, 8am-6pm (Sabin, Thorne and Miller Prizes) at Evans Hall, Room 2410, 165 Whitney Ave. Light breakfast, lunch and coffee/snacks will be served. Free. Details and registration here. #startupyale