This year, the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute launched the Yale College Dean’s Challenge for Social Innovation, a new pathway for recognizing and advancing a venture by a Yale undergraduate student with a social mission. The Dean’s Challenge was introduced as a means for a social venture to participate in the YEI Fellowship—a 10-week bootcamp for accelerating startups at YEI—via special selection by Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway. Of the 43 applications to the Fellowship this year, 25 were eligible for the Dean’s Challenge.
Dean Holloway chose PremieBreathe, a startup that is developing a portable infant respiratory device, as this year’s winner.
“PremieBreathe’s mission has real outcomes on infant survival rates in the poorest parts of the world,” says Dean Holloway. “The work it has done in rural Ethiopia is nothing short of inspiring.”
Advancing a venture with the potential for real impact is a key mission of the Dean’s Challenge.
Jim Boyle, Managing Director of YEI says: “We wanted the Dean’s Challenge to encourage students to think big about solving serious global problems and to propose ventures with the potential to impact a million lives or more.”
The problem PremieBreathe is tackling is huge. Globally, 4.5 million infants die before their first year according to the World Health Organization and premature birth is the largest single factor. A quarter of these deaths have a respiratory component.
The PremieBreathe team brings together diverse Yalies with broad experience in global health. It includes Katy Chan (’15), who has a Biomedical Engineering degree from Yale and makes regular trips to clinics in Ethiopia; Charles Stone (’14) who has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Global Affairs and is working as a consultant at Oliver Wyman; Jordan Sabin, a Yale College Senior double majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Economics and Shirin Ahmed (’12) a Political Science and International Relations graduate. Lead advisors include Anjelica Gonzalez (the team’s Principal Investigator), Donna L. Dubinsky Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering; and Dr. Lei Chen, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at Yale School of Medicine (their primary Clinical Advisor).
The startup continues to attract support for their work in developing a cost-effective portable infant respirator that will deliver carefully regulated respiratory therapy. PremieBreathe was named to YEI’s Global Social Venture Creation Program in partnership with InnovateHealth Yale; they received support from Yale’s Global Health Leadership Institute; and they recently received a Stage two grant of $20,000 from VentureWell which helps launch science and technology startups from student innovators.