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2019 Climate Change Innovation Seed Grant Winners Announced!

Over $13,000 awarded to support innovative ideas addressing climate change

Six student teams were recently awarded Climate Change Innovation Grants by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY).

Over $13,000 was awarded this year to help further innovative ideas to address climate change and its environmental and social impacts. CBEY has awarded these grants for the past three years in an effort to support projects and ideas that can have wide-ranging impacts and tackle diverse systemic issues related to the current climate crisis.

“Because this is an early-stage grant that’s open to for-profit and non-profits alike, the ideas that get submitted span a wide variety of disciplines and approaches,” says Ben Soltoff, Environmental Innovation Fellow at Yale Center for Business and the Environment and Tsai CITY. “It gives me hope to see students come up with such multi-faceted solutions to the climate crisis. A wicked problem like climate change requires some creative solutions, and every year, students show that they’re up to the task.”

"It gives me hope to see students come up with such multi-faceted solutions to the climate crisis."

-Ben Soltoff, Environmental Innovation Fellow at Yale Center for Business and the Environment and Tsai CITY

The 2019 recipients include:

  • Upright Oats: Upright Oats will produce oat milk and oat milk-based products.  Oat milk has the same nutrients as traditional dairy but creates very little GHG emissions and uses a fraction of land and water resources to produce, coupled with a low incidence of allergic reaction compared to nut- and soy-based products.
  • Restoration Carbon: Restoration Carbon closes the gap between national scale climate funding and local tree cover restoration projects to foment natural carbon removal implementation. They are creating a project finance mechanism where the upfront costs of tree planting are covered through blended capital, and investors are then paid back through novel stacked capital revenue streams.
  • Floe: Floe is an automated, environmentally-sustainable, energy-efficient, safe, and cost-effective solution to prevent the extensive water damage caused by ice buildup on roofs and similar infrastructure in the winter. Compared to the benchmark product, Floe’s solution offers customers significant cost savings and emits 1% of the emissions.
  • Solar.20: Long-life battery systems for off-grid solar home power systems in low-income countries. Solar.20 offers solar power systems that last 400% longer than the competition but cost only 15% more.
  • Mesa Foods: This healthy, plant-based dehydrated foods startup primarily targets backpackers and other outdoor adventurers. As people grow increasingly conscious of the food they consume, Mesa Foods seeks to provide healthy, vegetable-forward, whole grain meal options for adventurers in a convenient, compostable package.
  • Urban heat exposure: A web application that combines localized measurements of urban heat island effect (UHI - the higher temperature in cities compared to their surroundings) and population to monitor the patterns of population-weighted heat exposure across space and over time. This will help to quantify and to build an understanding of the public health implications from heat stress.

CBEY is incredibly thankful to the judges who helped select the recipients. They include Yale alumni and a past leader in entrepreneurship at CBEY and Tsai CITY.

  • Cass Walker-Harvey, Executive Director at First Southwest Community Fund
  • Charissa Rujanavech (MEM ‘13), Creator of Liam, Apple’s first automated disassembly system for iPhone recycling
  • Kathryn Wright (MEM ‘13), Senior Associate at Cadmus, Co-Founder of MySunBuddy
  • Ruth Metzel (MEM/MBA ‘16), Co-founder and Executive Director at Fundación Pro Eco Azuero / Azuero Eco Foundation

“We were really impressed by the submissions this year,” says Cass Walker-Harvey, Executive Director at First Southwest Community Fund. “It’s exciting to see such innovative ideas coming from the students at Yale who want to combat the impacts of our current climate crisis.  To say it was a challenge to select this year’s recipients is an understatement, to say the least!”

Winning teams will receive seed funding, the opportunity to participate in the Climate Change Solutions Generator in spring 2020, and expert mentorship to advance their projects. They are also strongly encouraged to apply for the Sobotka Seed Stage Grant as part of CBEY’s entrepreneurship and innovation grant and prize pipeline.


Photo by Amit Kothiyal on Unsplash