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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.

Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant: The 2018 Winners

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:

  • Qualtrics online application

  • Business model canvas (see application for details)

  • Excel-based budget

  • CVs of team Members

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 must be submitted by Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 11:59 PM. [Application now closed]


Grant submitters will be notified by the end of the semester whether or not they have been awarded a seed stage venture grant. These are competitive grants that will be evaluated and selected by a committee of professionals and experts. Proposals will be evaluated for the following:

  • Potential for the venture to be commercially viable
  • 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:

  • Competitions - Teams who receive Sobotka Grants are encouraged to compete in the Sabin Environmental Venture Prize
  • Acknowledgment - Where relevant, ventures should acknowledge support from the Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grants

Mentorship sessions

Starting in 2019, CBEY has added mentorship sessions. 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.

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. 

Sobotka Stories


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 Ideation, Pursuing, 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 business 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.

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

Stuart DeCew

Executive Director at Yale Center for Business and the Environment
MBA 2011
Master of Environmental Management 2011

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