fluid-screen sabin prize

The Yale student venture Fluid-Screen has recently taken two top awards in Yale startup competitions--$25,000 for the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize from the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale (CBEY) and $10,000 for the Yale Venture Challenge from the Yale Entrepreneurial Society (YES). The startup is also one of four finalists for the Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health—a $25,000 cash prize which will be awarded by the Yale School of Public Health April 26 at the Yale School of Management. Fluid-Screen is led by Yale Ph.D. candidate Monika Weber (’14), Yale MBA candidate Anthony Lynn (’14) and Seyla Azoz, Yale Ph.D.  and SOM candidate (’15), who are developing a portable device for quickly and accurately testing for environmental contaminants in water and blood samples. The device is built around patented chip technology developed at Yale and can bring screen-time down from multiple days to 30 minutes.  

Fluid-Screen is participating the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s Venture Creation Program, a program for supporting early-stage startups with a small amount of capital, expert mentors and guidance. The technology has been developed with over $4 million in grant funding to date and the team is seeking an additional $400,000 to develop their prototype device.

Two other ventures that have or will be participating in YEI’s Fellowship took home prizes from the Yale Venture Challenge. Spylight, a startup from YEI’s 2013 Fellowship that was founded by Casper Daugaard (YC ’13), took second place ($5,000). The company is developing a website and app that allows consumers to identify and purchase products featured in their favorite shows and they have negotiated a partnership with a major Hollywood studio to pilot the service with three top TV shows, including New Girl and White Collar. SÖL, a startup participating in the 2014 YEI Fellowship, won third place ($1,000). The teamJeremiah Kreisberg (YC ’14), Jacob Sandry (YC ’15) and Eric Caine (YC ’15)are developing an organic, non-GMO sports drink that has the proper levels of electrolytes and sugars that athletes need during a workout.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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WTNH News anchor Ann Nyberg featured the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute on her webshow, Nyberg, to talk about their startups and how YEI is expanding opportunities for student entrepreneurs at Yale.

The show features Jim Boyle, managing director of YEI and two students: Fanni Li, cofounder of Eli Nutrition, makers of Tummyzen from the 2013 Fellowship and Starling Childs, cofounder of Citiesense from the 2014 Fellowship

Check out the video!

yei ann nyberg

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(Oliva Zhao & Michelle Addington)

Three Yale women were honored at the March 27 Women of Innovation awards ceremony by the Connecticut Technology Council. Michelle Addington, Hines Professor of Sustainable Architectural Design at Yale School of Architecture was nominated for Academic Innovation and Leadership for her work advancing smart materials and environmental technologies. Julie Dorsey, Professor of Computer Science at Yale and cofounder of the startup Mental Canvas was nominated for Research Innovation and Leadership for advancing image synthesis, modeling material appearance and interactive illustration. Paula Kavathas, Professor of Laboratory Medicine, of Genetics, of Immunobiology and of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale was nominated for Academic Innovation and Leadership for advancing knowledge relevant to vaccine monitoring and immunotherapy.

Congratulations to all the honorees!

(Julie Dorsey and husband David Ackman)

(Paula Kavathas and husband Sukh Grewal)

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women in innovation

By Brita Belli

Three Yale women (and one Yale woman moderator) came together to discuss their startups and successes in a March 3 talk on Women in Innovation cohosted by YEI and InnovateHealth Yale. Georgie Levenson Keohane, a fellow of the Roosevelt Institute, author of the book Social Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century and Yale alum, moderated the discussion, saying at the outset: "I get to learn about the work of people who are changing the world." Those people included Barbara Bush, CEO and cofounder of Global Health Corps; Jennifer Staple-Clark, CEO and founder of Unite for Sight and Laura Niklason, founder and chief scientist of Humacyte and professor of anesthesiology and biomedical engineering at Yale.

Following Their Inspiration

Bush originally planned to major in architecture at Yale. But a course on AIDS and society changed her path. "I became obsessed with global health issues," Bush says, adding that she travelled to six countries in Africa to see the AIDS crisis first hand and returned with a new commitment to public health. Though she had no intention of becoming an entrepreneur, Bush says the model of what she wanted to join--essentially a Teach for America aimed at public health--didn't exist. The idea behind Global Health Corps is to create fellows that work for a year in countries of need and go on to assume leadership roles at Ministries of Health and other high-level government and nonprofit positions.

Staple-Clark began with a student group at Yale that worked to connect people with free resources to receive regular eye care in order to avoid glaucoma and blindness. That chapter drew interest at other schools nd Staple-Clark created a standardized model for schools to create their own Unite for Sight chapters. Meanwhile, a man in an Internet cafe in a refugee camp in Ghana discovered Unite for Sight online and emailed her about how her organization might help them. Soon, she had connected with an opthamalogist in Ghana and began working with clinics there that see 100-300 patients a day. 

Niklason, representing the only for-profit venture among the panelists, wanted to form a new device to help patients. "What struck me is that so many people who are sick are sick because their blood vessels are sick," Niklason said. She wanted to grow new arteries for patients out of human cells, because replacing arteries in surgergy with veins or plastic tubing is fraught with complications. In the mid-'90s, Niklason says, growing arteries was considered "the lunatic fringe." But 10 years ago, she had successful results growing arteries from animal and human cells and her startup, Humacyte, was born.

Measuring Success

Bush talked about the way the fellows accepted into Global Heatlh Corps help to shape their programs and the need to iterate constantly as a startup to stay relevant. And both she and Staple-Clark talked about the importance of collecting and analyzing data in order to understand the effectiveness of their programs.

"We're very focused on measuring outcomes," says Staple-Clark. "We don't measure how many surgeries, but the pre- and post-surgery data to make sure the surgeries were sight restoring."

To maintain the effectiveness of their programs, both panelists discussed the need to stay focused on their goals. "People want to fund something that seems audacious every single year," Bush says. "But most important is the quality of work that fellows do."

Niklason says the rules for success vary dramatically between the private sector and the academic lab. In academia, methodical science is prized. But, she adds, "At the end of three to four years of investigation you might find out your hypothesis is wrong." In the private sector, she says, the mantra is "fail early."

Working in both worlds, says Niklason, has made her smarter--better at managing teams and enunciating clear goals and timelines.

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On Feb. 28, students filled the tables in a workshop space at the Center for Engineering, Innovation and Design for a hands-on experience in designing and launching a company called Start Something. Taught by Alena Gribskov, program director of YEI and Kyle Jensen, an entrepreneur-in-residence at YEI, angel investor and scientist. the six-hour workshop was particularly geared toward students with an interest in commercializaing engineering-based innovations and was co-sponsored by the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science. Other Start Something workshops have focused on food businesses and sustainability concepts.

Start Something offers students a primer in the lean startup method which emphasizes early customer validation for a concept and iterative product releases that reflect customer feedback and input. Lean startup allows entrepreneurs to reduce market risk by determining cutomer need and willingness to buy before large investments come into play. A few scenes from the workshop are below. Want more? Check out our Flickr page!

alena start something

kyle start something

groups at start something yei

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