Oct 26, 2018

Climate Change Seed Grant Winners Announced

Five student teams receive the 2018 Entrepreneurial Solutions to Climate Change Seed Grants!

Five student teams were recently awarded grants as part of the Climate Change Innovation Seed Funding program, now in its second year. This grant program provides support for innovative ideas to address critical catalysts and solutions for climate change.

Teams are made up of students from across Yale University, including the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, School of Management and Yale College.  The projects have impact across the globe, from New Haven to Southeast Asia and around the world and tackle a diverse range of crucial issues related to climate change highlighted by Project Drawdown, including energy, materials, transportation, food, women and girls, and land use.

“One of our main goals throughout this process was to support climate change innovators and entrepreneurs across the entirety of Yale,” says Sophie Janaskie, the Environmental Innovation Fellow at Tsai CITY and CBEY. “We made concerted efforts to reach out to all corners of campus and were thrilled to receive such compelling, innovative, and diverse proposals.”

The winners presented proposals that demonstrated a high potential for impact, high project viability, and overall excellence.  The 2018 recipients include:

1. Green Mow by Ryan Li (Yale School Management). Green Mow electrifies the lawn mowing industry, which consumes millions of gallons of gas, and contributes 5% of US air pollution according to the EPA. Green Mow will enable the commercial landscaping industry to adopt electric mowers by developing a battery lease program, which will reduce costs and the barrier to entry for landscaping companies.

2. AIRPower by Jennifer Gammond (Yale School of Management), Mary Gammond and Javier Choc. AIRPower uses sustainable resources to power clean technology and achieves a Net-Zero Carbon Footprint for medium and heavy-duty trucks. AIRPower builds electric powertrain systems for semi-trucks, replacing fossil fuel engine systems with electrically driven systems that capture sunlight and turn it into electricity.

3. Ocean Impact by Lindsay Olsen (Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies). Ocean Impact aims to provide remote fishing communities with an alternative livelihood solution in the face of rapid climate change by elevating the role of kelp and seaweed farming in developing countries for small-scale fishermen. Kelp possesses the qualities of the food we envision for our future: high-efficient growth, large carbon sequestration potential, and easily seeded and maintained. Ocean Impact will gather insights from kelp farms of the eastern seaboard of the United States and apply them to inform techniques that could be used for seaweed farming in tropical waters.  

4. Soil Samplers by Ekaterina Danchenko (Yale College), Natalie Irwin (Yale College), and Seila De Leon (Yale College). Soil Samplers has developed an effective, portable and affordable soil sample extraction and drying device, a field-ready kit for soil carbon content analysis. These kits make frequent and accurate sampling possible in the field and make soil content analysis more widely accessible to non-research groups and groups with limited funding.

5. Shoots by Kevin Gallagher (Yale College) and Dr. Graeme Berlyn (Professor, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies). Wine grape production area in the United States could decline by up to 81% by the late 21st century due to the effects of global warming. Shoots is a blend of organic biostimulants that will enable grape vines to endure greater temperature stress, increase grape yield, and increase polyphenolic protective compounds, which are desirable in wine grape production.

A panel of judges comprised of Yale alumni helped select the recipients:

  • Lauren Elizabeth Graham (M.E.M. '13), Founder & CEO, Velvet Frame, LLC

  • Michael Oristaglio (B.S/M.S. '74), Director, Energy Studies at Yale University, (Yale College)

  • Noah Walker (M.E.M./M.B.A.), Project Leader, The Boston Consulting Group

“Our pool of applicants was incredibly strong - and to say it was a challenge to select the winners would be an understatement. Our alumni judges rose to this challenge to provide keen insights and feedback for each of the applicants. We are incredibly grateful for their participation,” says Sophie Janaskie.

Winning teams will receive seed funding, space at The Landscape Lab at West Campus, and expert mentorship to advance their projects.