Funding Opportunity

Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grants

Innovate with a purpose. Start a sustainable venture that unlocks a new market while solving an age old problem.


Through the Sobotka Research Fund, financial support is provided to provide seed funding for start-up ventures in business and the environment. This fund, managed by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, initiates a series of programs to support student and faculty research and education projects.

Funding opportunity

Seed stage venture grants are for student and faculty ventures from departments across Yale University. Up to two seed stage venture grants of $10,000 each will be provided. There are no direct (overhead) costs associated with these grants. Use of the grant proceeds are limited to one year and cover expenses including, but not limited to stipends for undergraduate and undergraduate students, equipment, analyses, data purchasing and surveying, business filing, and travel for faculty and students

Proposal Requirements

Faculty and student(s) are to submit a full proposal. The proposal should include:

The Yale Center for Business and the Environment is soliciting proposals to support student and faculty efforts to launch new start-up ventures in the field of business and the environment. We are soliciting proposals to provide seed funds for eco-ventures to support vital areas for commercial success including product R&D, incorporation, market surveying, and product or service prototyping. The goal of this RFP is to advance the involvement of student and faculty in creating competitive commercial enterprises that market viable products, services and projects that have environmental benefits to society.

Successful proposals should meet the following criteria:

  • Team - at least one current Yale student must be involved in the venture
  • Venture - the business concept must be commercially viable and produce environmental benefits for society



  • Applications are now closed.



Grant submitters will be notified within 30 business days of the application deadline whether or not they have been awarded a seed stage venture grant. These are competitive grants that will be evaluated and selected by faculty members and business practitioners. Proposals will be evaluated for the following:

  • Potential for the venture to be commercially viable and contribute environmental benefits to society
  • Effective use of grant proceeds to advance the venture
  • Overall team composition including knowledge, skills and abilities


Recipient Requirements

The following requirements are expected of the faculty and student venture receiving seed stage venture grant funding:

  • Professional Development - team members are required to participate in either the Sabin Environmental Venture Prize professional development workshops or the Entrepreneurial Business Plan course
  • Competitions - your venture must compete in the Sabin Environmental Venture Prize
  • Acknowledgement - ventures should acknowledge support from the Sobotka Research Fund

Past Recipients

Over the years, the Sobotka Seed Stage Grant program has supported many start-up sustainable business ventures.  Read the stories about past recipients and how this grant impacted the trajectory of their ideas. 


1. Can my business idea be an international venture and not necessarily within the USA?

Absolutely, your venture can be anywhere globally provided it has an environmentally beneficial impact.

2. What are my chances of winning?

Every application is considered holistically and has an equal and fair opportunity to win. Historically we have received between 12-18 application per year.

3. 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 learnt through the application process and how robust your idea has consequently become.

4. What is the difference between Ideation, PursuingExecuting 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.

5. Is the Sobotka Grant more for environmental or social businesses ventures?

Environmental impact is a requirement for the application. However, if your venture has a predominately positive social impact and a minor environmental impact, then we still encourage you to apply as we do seriously consider these applications.

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