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Funding Opportunity

Climate Change Innovation Grants

These grants offer seed funding for innovative solutions addressing climate change

Polar bear on ice float

This seed grant represents a key focus area within CBEY: Climate Change Innovation. With the current administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change agreement, entrepreneurs and innovators have an increasingly critical role in helping to slow down, and maybe even reverse, the effects of climate change. This seed funding program is an important step in unlocking this potential and fulfilling Yale’s commitment to building a more sustainable world.

Up to five seed stage grants of $500 - $3,000 will be awarded.

Past winners include:

  • Upright Oats: Produce oat milk and oat milk-based products
  • Solar.20: Long-life battery systems for off-grid solar home power systems in low-income countries
  • Symbrosia: A contained symbiotic system to produce an algae-based cattle feed supplement that reduces methane by 99%
  • Firoz Academy: Gender-equitable education in Afghanistan
  • Forested Foods: Honey and other products sourced from smallholder farmers in Ethiopia
  • Revert: Electric lawn mowers for landscapers, paired with energy management
  • Airpower: Electric powertrain systems for class-8 trucks
  • Agricore: Tools for quicker and easier soil analysis, including carbon content
  • Ocean Impact: Introducing kelp as an alternative livelihood for fishing communities coping with climate change

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Application information

Applications are now closed. Applications will re-open in Fall 2020.

Early-stage entrepreneurial ideas are encouraged. Successful proposals should meet the following criteria:

  • Team – at least one current Yale student (undergraduate, graduate, professional or doctoral) must be involved in the idea/venture
  • Venture or Project – the concept must be innovative and propose a solution that addresses climate change through one of the following crucial catalysts for change, as highlighted by Project Drawdown:
    • Energy
    • Food
    • Women and Girls
    • Buildings and Cities
    • Land Use
    • Transport
    • Materials

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of judges, and selected on the following criteria:

  • Potential for addressing climate change

  • Potential commercial viability and scalability of the solution

  • Strength of team

  • Evidence of need/demand for proposed solution or project

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We have various resources available as you prepare your application:

Office Hours:

Meet with a member of our team for one-on-one advice and consultation. This fall, David Sobotka and Peter Boyd were available for in-person consultations to help teams with their business models. Teams were strongly encouraged to meet with at least one of them for guidance. These sessions are non-evaluative and have no bearing on the selection process. Neither David nor Peter is part of the judging panel.

Meet with Ben Soltoff for feedback and connections to other resources at Yale.



Am I eligible?

All teams must include at least one a full-time current Yale student.

Who are the judges?

The Climate Change Innovation Grant program will have an Alumni Board that is concentrated in the intersection of the business and the environment, with particular expertise in either entrepreneurship or climate change. They will include industry experts, academics, entrepreneurs and investors.

Does my idea have to be a for-profit or not-profit?

All ideas are welcome. Your project may be a for-profit solution, non-profit, a community movement, a communications strategy, or you might not even be sure what form it will take yet.

What stage should my idea be?

Your idea can be at any stage – early ideas encouraged. The judges want to see that the $500 to $3000 will be catalytic to your testing your idea, and taking it to the next level.

Does it matter where in the process I am?

No. Regardless of whether your idea is in the Ideation, Pursuing, or Executing phase, your application will allow you to demonstrate your commitment towards thinking through the various entrepreneurial elements.

What is the difference between Ideation, Pursuing, and Executing?

Ideation indicates that you have a basic idea with very high-level thoughts around how you will provide value. Everyone starts here at some point. Pursuing indicates that you are actively implementing by developing the business model or some form of pilot or 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. 

What is the timeline?

Final Applications are due October 7, 2019 (applications are now closed). Finalists will be notified within 4 weeks if they have been selected to receive a grant.

What do I get if I win?

Up to $3000 cash prize. In addition to the funding, as part of the Climate Change Innovation Grant you will receive:

  • Mentorship from 1-2 experts
  • A strategy session with CBEY Executive Fellow in Residence
  • Opportunity for incubation space at West Campus to test and explore idea during the 2019-2020 academic year
  • Opportunity to participate in the Climate Change Solutions Generator in spring 2020

Can my idea be an international venture/project and not necessarily within the USA?

Yes, ideas can be anywhere globally as long as it focuses on one of the catalytic areas for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

What are my chances of winning?

We are looking for innovative and exciting ideas, and given there are up to five grants, you’re chances of receiving one are good.

To what extent are the Climate Change Innovation Grants orientated towards climate change?

The primary objective is to ensure that your for-profit or non-profit venture seeks to address climate change or its environmental/social impacts through one of the key catalysts identified. It is critical that you indicate how your project will do this in order to receive the grant.

People & Partners

Forest Abbott-Lum

Master of Environmental Management 2021

Wilder Person

Master of Environmental Management 2021

Ben Soltoff

Environmental Innovation Fellow at Yale Center for Business and the Environment and Tsai CITY
MBA 2019
Master of Environmental Management 2019

Peter Boyd

Founder & CEO at Time4Good Group

Program Alumni

Sophie Janaskie

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