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Sobotka Seed Prize for Sustainable Ventures: The 2023 Winners

The Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) is delighted to announce the winners of the 2023 Sobotka Seed Prize for Sustainable Ventures.

CBEY supports students in building sustainable businesses that are solving some of our planet’s biggest problems. A huge part of this has been via the Sobotka Seed Prize for Sustainable Ventures.  Since 2011, David Sobotka and his family have supported entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers who want to address the needs of both the market and the planet, giving two $10,000 awards annually.

This year, the Sobotka Seed Prize for Sustainable Ventures focused on solutions in four key areas of urgent action:

  • Protecting and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Food, agriculture and land use
  • Energy use, efficiency and access
  • Materials and waste

After a competitive and selective process, we have decided to award three teams for this year's Sobotka Prize. Due to the outstanding quality of applications, we have decided to provide additional funding to support these three ventures. 

EVident Battery (Jinqiang Ning and Wenbo Xiang)

Jinqiang Ning (SOM) and Wenbo Xiang (SOM) seek to EVident Battery seek to develop a comprehensive and non-destructive inspection technology to inspect electric vehicle (EV) battery packs. 

Oxylus Energy (Perry Bakas, Harrison Meyer, and Conor Rooney)

Perry Bakas (SOM), Connor Rooney (Yale University, Energy Sciences Institute), Harrsion Meyer (SOM, YSE) have created Oxylus Energy (aka Carbon Loop). Oxylus Energy upcycles captured  CO2 into green chemicals and fuels, for hard-to-decarbonize sectors like shipping, aviation, and petrochemical production.

Prospect Growth (Wyatt Arnold and Andreas Backhaus)

Wyatt Arnold (Yale University, Departments of Environmental and Chemical Engineering), and Andreas Backhaus (Yale University, Department of Chemical Engineering) seek to create Prospect Growth, which will manufacture nanoparticle-based fertilizers, or nanofertilizers, for increasing crop yields while reducing nutrient inputs and losses.

Thank you to our judges

The CBEY team is very grateful for the team of judges that participated in this process. Some of the judges included:

  • Adrian Horotan (MEM '10) is a General Partner at Safer Made, a venture fund investing in companies and technologies that create safer alternatives for people and the environment and reduce exposure to harmful chemicals. 
  • Yesenia Gallarado Avila (MEM ’15) is a Principal at Potencia Ventures, an impact investment firm focused on business models that work to improve the lives of lower income people.
  • Urvashi Bhatnagar (MBA ’18) is an author and strategic advisor for Primary Venture Partners, a New York based early-stage venture firm.

Eric Rubenstein (YC ’04) is Founding Manager Partner at New Climate Ventures, focused on carbon reduction and avoidance which includes but is not limited to food/ag tech, climate tech, and circular economy.