YEI Innovation Fund

The YEI Innovation Fund offers pre-seed funding to the most promising Yale startups. The Fund was created in September 2013 by Yale University in partnership with Connecticut Innovations and First Niagara Bank in order to improve access to early stage investment capital here in Connecticut. Elm Street Ventures, a seed and early-stage venture fund based in New Haven, Connecticut, is managing the Fund.

Any ventures that have participated in programs at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute are eligible to apply for this funding—with up to $100,000 available per venture—with preference given to ventures which have completed YEI’s Summer Fellowship.

Send applications to Erika Smith,

Frequently Asked Questions


To help students and recent graduates of Yale who have worked with a Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI) program develop their business concept sufficiently to attract seed capital. Preference will be given to companies that have completed the Summer Fellowship and those teams that are in or willing to commit to a Connecticut location.


Up to $100,000 standard convertible note. Proceeds shall be used for forward looking expenses which can include but are not limited to the development of products, hiring staff and working capital.


  • Potential for high growth.
  • Clear and achievable milestones that would allow a subsequent raise of seed capital.
  • Team skills adequate to complete next-phase milestones.

Timing / Process

  • Applications due on January 13. Required application documents: PowerPoint presentation and Investment Memo (please use this template). Send applications to Erika Smith,
  • Selected teams will present to the Investment Committee during the week of October 7. The Investment Committee is made up of: Elm Street Ventures (Managing Partners), Connecticut Innovations, First Niagara Bank and Yale University
  • Investment Committee decisions will be announced during the week of February 3.


Contact Erika Smith at or Adrian Horotan at