Blog: yei


alacrity tp ma james lin

The startup Alacrity Semiconductors, Inc. recently received a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant with support from Connecticut Innovations’ SBIR Acceleration and Commercialization Program. The team behind Alacrity—including Yale School of Management students James Lin (’15) and Matthew Kern (’15) along with T.P. Ma, Raymond James Wean Professor of Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics at Yale and postdoctoral student Xiao Sun—are developing an adaptive storage semiconductor that has the potential to integrate with all existing computing devices. Lin and Ma were introduced through the Technology Commercialization Program jointly run by the Office of Cooperative Research and the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI). They first developed the venture during the 2014 YEI Fellowship, which provides funding, mentorship and expert guidance to Yale ventures. This is their second SBIR grant.

“We are excited to partner with Connecticut Innovations to promote the development of technology in Connecticut,” says Lin, “and we are grateful to YEI for making those introductions.” YEI hosts regular office hours with Merrie London, Manager of the SBIR and Federal Leveraging Programs at CT Innovations, and Lin began meeting with her a year ago to discuss their eligibility for federal grants. “Merrie’s guidance and support throughout the process has been instrumental to Alacrity receiving federal funds.”

“She reviewed our SBIR application and provided support from the state to get the most out of it,” he adds. Lin says the money will contribute to creating technology jobs in Connecticut and supporting detailed market studies to develop a market entry strategy for their product.


Interested in meeting with Merrie? She is holding Office Hours at YEI (55 Whitney Ave., 2nd Floor) on May 19, June 9 and July 1, 1-4pm. Sign up here!


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yei yale healthcare panel

By Brita Belli

The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute hosted a panel called “Idea to Implementation: How to Start a Company in Today’s Healthcare Environment” as part of the Yale Healthcare Conference on Friday, April 10. The panel, moderated by Erika Smith, Deputy Director of YEI, featured: Anthony Sabatelli, Partner at Dilworth IP; Tim Shannon, General Partner at Canaan Partners; Wendy Davis (SOM ’14), Cofounder and CEO of GestVision; Sean Mackay (SOM ’14), Cofounder and CEO of IsoPlexis; and Jesse Rich (SOM ’16), Cofounder of Revai. The panelists addressed everything from the importance of patents to examining incentives to legal concerns in founding a startup. Here are some highlights.

1.“Sometimes IP for a fledgling company is the only asset you have. Investors are typically interested in two things—is there IP? And do you own it?” Anthony Sabatelli, Partner at Dilworth IP.

2. “Never assume the IP is taken care of and done. It’s like a child that has to be monitored. The product is always changing and evolving.” Wendy Davis, (SOM ’14), Cofounder and CEO of GestVision.

3. “You need to do something where all the incentives align for your benefit. Building a startup is really hard. If those incentives don’t align, you’re dead in the water.” Jesse Rich (SOM ’16), Cofounder of Revai.

4. “One of the things we look at is will this thing get paid for well and easily? Incentives and disincentives drive what we do.” Tim Shannon, General Partner at Canaan Partners.

5. “Talk to clinicians early—before you even know what the product is. Ask ‘What will make a difference in treating your patient’?” Wendy Davis, (SOM ’14), Cofounder and CEO of GestVision.

6. “You need lawyers not only for handling IP, but other aspects of forming a company—operating agreements, shareholder agreements, raising financing rounds, partners together, branding, HR issues.” Anthony Sabatelli, Partner at Dilworth IP.

7. In relation to a question about how to set your startup’s valuation: “You have to be able to chart out what the company looks like in two rounds. Ultimately, it’s market price.” Sean Mackay (SOM ’14), Cofounder and CEO of IsoPlexis.

8. “I worry that healthcare technology investment is going to Silicon Valley, and that’s not where the health disparity lives. We need to find ways to address those needs.” Tim Shannon, General Partner at Canaan Partners.

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yale women of innovation

April 2, 2015: Seven Yale women were named as honorees at the recent Women of Innovation Awards presented by the Connecticut Technology Council, and two won prizes in their categories for their innovative research and entrepreneurship. Serap Aksoy, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, won a Research Innovation and Leadership award for her discovery of innovative methods for using beneficial bacteria to render insects inhospitable for disease-causing pathogens, reducing their ability to transmit disease. Monika Weber, a PhD. student in Electrical Engineering won an award for Collegian Innovation and Leadership for her co-invention of Fluid-Screen, a small device that detects bacteria in 30 minutes.

Other Yale honorees included Wendy Davis, founder and CEO of GestVision, a startup developing a test for preeclampsia; Lynn Fiellin, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale School of Medicine who founded and directs Yale’s play2PREVENT lab and cofounded the startup KnackTime Interactive to develop behavior-impacting videogames; and Ellen Su, a recent Yale grad and the cofounder of Wellinks, which is developing a device and related app to track the wear-time and tightness of scoliosis braces. All three startups are being developed with support from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Two additional Yale women—Jeannette Ickovics, Professor at the Yale School of Public Health  and Kyle Vanderlick, dean of the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science at Yale—were also honored.

“This was really an incredible night for Yale women, showing the breadth of leadership and innovation from students to faculty,” says Erika Smith, Deputy Director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. “We’re thrilled to work with such inspiring women and to share in celebrating their accomplishments.”

In receiving her award, Dr. Aksoy encouraged young women to “share your passion for science, research and education.” This was the 11th annual Women of Innovation awards ceremony, and there is now a combined alumnae group of nearly 550 Women of Innovation.

CONTACT: Brita Belli, Communications Officer, Yale Entrepreneurial Institute,

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March 17, 2015: Just three months after launching, Saphlux, Inc., a startup co-founded by Chen Chen (SOM ’16), has received a funding infusion of more than $1 million that will enable the company to build a prototype of the lighting product that Chen wants to bring to market.

ZhenFund, a Beijing-based angel investor firm, led this seed round of funding with a $1 million investment in Saphlux. The fund was co-founded by Sequoia Capital China, Victor Wang Qiang, and Bob Xu Xiaoping, who serves on the advisory committee of the Yale Center Beijing. The firm works in collaboration with Sequoia Capital China to promote innovation among China’s youth. Chen is a native of China. Other investors also include NewMargin Ventures and PreAngel.

Chen and Jung Han, professor of electrical engineering and chair of Yale’s Electrical Engineering Department, started Saphlux in November 2014 after meeting through the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute’s Technology Commercialization Program. “I was looking for technology to commercialize, and Professor Han had developed this new LED chip,” says Chen, who is also an engineer. “We had good chemistry, and things have really moved pretty fast.” Chen is the new company’s CEO, and Han is the chief of its scientific advisory board.

Saphlux seeks to produce a high-efficiency, high-power, low-cost LED chip for use with most LED applications, starting with general lighting. The new chip should be ten times cheaper and much more energy efficient than current products. It could also enable new LED applications such as a portable LED laser projector.  

Chen spent three weeks in China in December, pitching the product to more than 20 investors. “The LED industry is booming,” he says. “It is a huge market and is still growing dramatically. It’s especially attractive to countries like China where energy is limited.”

Saphlux is headquartered in New Haven. “We are a Yale-founded company and we want to build on our ties with Yale,” Chen says. “There are a lot of things to be done now, both on the tech side and on the business side, and we’ll be working right here.”

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Launched from a Dorm Room yale sxsw

By Brita Belli

On Friday, March 13, the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute hosted two panels as part of SXSW Interactive, "Venture Investing in Universities" and "Launched from a Dorm Room." Below are 10 of our favorite insights from our panelists.

 1. “We look for deals that are exciting and riding big waves in healthcare and technology. Think about things that are changing the shape of society.” Greg Ho, President and COO of Spring Mountain Capital

2. “Any early stage startup needs to be humble, listen to customers and gather as many mentors as possible.” Sean Mackay, Cofounder and CEO of IsoPlexis

3. “Rather than have VCs pick through opportunities at a high-stakes event, we found it helpful to empower students to be able to direct where the investment happens…to help companies be born that otherwise wouldn’t be.”  Donald Fischer, Venture Partner, General Catalyst Partners which invests in student founders through Rough Draft Ventures

4. One idea for improving entrepreneurship growth at universities: “Create an endowment within the endowment that can support entrepreneurship.” Greg Ho, President and COO of Spring Mountain Capital

5. “My focus would be less on the product, and more on the customer. The hard part is really understanding the domain space and understanding the intersection of what someone needs and what you can deliver.” Donald Fischer, Venture Partner, General Catalyst Partners which invests in student founders through Rough Draft Ventures

6. “Start a company because you have a problem you want to solve, and a startup is the best way to approach it.” Jessica Cole, School District Coordinator, Panorama Education

7. “When you have a ‘.edu’ address, people will share things with you. You can approach it as an academic question or go to your alumni network. The day after you graduate, it’s harder to get that help.” Victor Wong, Cofounder and CEO of PaperG

8. “A business partner is not that important. Usually you don’t face those problems until there’s a product-market fit and at that point you can attract real talent.” David Luan, Cofounder of Dextro

9. “It’s important to maintain a healthy cross-section of people that you know.” Victor Wong, Cofounder and CEO of PaperG

10. “Find people you think are out of your league.” Jessica Cole, School District Coordinator, Panorama Education

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