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. 

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.

    2018 Sabin Prize Finalists Announced!

    Thanks to all who applied!  We received many high-quality applications and selecting four finalists was incredibly difficult! 

    Ventures pitching at the 2018 Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize will be:

















    Alectro LLC

    At Alectro, our mission is to transition railways to renewable energy by designing and implementing large-scale solar projects. We will do so by integrating track-side solar systems with existing railway infrastructure so that electric railways can run on renewable energy without any additional land commitments.

    Concha Aquaponic Solutions

    We are developing a saltwater aquaponic system capable of growing both White Pacific Shrimp and the red macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis. These two products together have the potential to both improve the quality of and significantly reduce the environmental impacts associated with current beef and seafood production.


    DroneFlow is a machine learning platform that enables people to train their drones to find what they are searching for, be it pipeline leaks, crop diseases, evidence of poaching or forest fires. DroneFlow makes highly technical processes accessible to average users and optimizes their search.

    Real Impact Tracker

    We make everyone an impact investor. We rate the social and environmental impact of investment funds. We certify the most impactful investment managers. We’re building Stake, a website that empowers everyone with personal savings to use their stake in their companies to support the issues they care about.

    Join us at the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize on Monday, April 16th at 4:00pm in Evans Hall Room 2400.

    Join us at Startup Yale!

    The Sabin Prize is part of Startup Yale, a collaboration between Yale Center for Business and the Environment, InnovateHealth Yale, and The Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale.  Over $125,000 in prize money for new ventures will be awarded! 

    REGISTER TO ATTEND! We are hosting the Sabin Prize on Monday, April 16,  2018, kicking off a week of entrepreneurial events included as part of StartupYale.

    Register here!

    Past Recipients

    Over the years, the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize has supported many sustainable business ventures.  Read the stories about past recipients and how this prize impacted the trajectory of their ideas. 


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

    What is the difference between the various prizes?

    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
    • Rothberg Catalyzer Prize: Developing an innovative hardware solution to a medical challenge.

    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 learned 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 16th, 2018.


    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 teh CITY Summer Fellowship, including $15,000 stipend, 8-week incubator program and mentorship
    • $10,000 of probono customer insight and strategy support from Flamingo


    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 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.

    Other resources

    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. 

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