Funding Opportunity

Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grants

Innovate with a purpose. Start a venture that addresses the needs of both the market and the planet.


Through the Sobotka Research Fund, these grants provide seed funding for start-up ventures in the field of business and the environment. The goal of the funding is to support student and faculty in creating competitive commercial enterprises that market viable products, services, and projects with environmental benefits to society.

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 awarded. Use of the grant proceeds is limited to one year and may 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

Application Requirements

The application must include:

  • Business model canvas (see application for details)
  • Excel-based budget for Year 1
  • CVs of team Members
  • Qualtrics online application

The Yale Center for Business and the Environment is soliciting proposals for start-up ventures in the field of business and the environment. We will provide seed funds for ventures to support vital areas for commercial success including product R&D, incorporation, market surveying, and product or service prototyping.

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



  • The application for 2018 have closed. 
  • Application for our next round of funding will be available in November 2019.
  • The grant coordinators will be holding office hours at CBEY and Tsai CITY to discuss the application process. If you have specific questions that are not covered on this page or in the application itself, please feel free to sign up here.



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 Tsai CITY professional development workshops or one of Yale's start-up practicum courses
  • Competitions - Teams who receive Sobotka Grants are encouraged to compete in the Sabin Environmental Venture Prize
  • Acknowledgment - 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 applications per year.

3. Does it matter where in the process I am?
It doesn't matter if your venture is in the IdeationPursuing, or Executing stage. Successful applications have come from each of those stages. What is most important is that the application demonstrates the viability of the idea, the potential impact, and the capability of the team to execute it.
4. 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 consider these applications seriously.

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