Over two days, Evans Hall was the setting for the biggest entrepreneurship ideas and prizes at Yale. The event, held April 14 and 15, was called Entrepreneurship Across Yale, and featured venture ideas positioned to impact the environment, public health and technology. The event was a shared effort between the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY), InnovateHealth Yale, the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI), the Yale Entrepreneurial Society (YES) and Yale School of Management (SOM). YES held the first contest on Thursday night for the Yale Venture Challenge. Educational technology venture StoryTime, founded by Yale CS major Phil Esterman (‘17), won the $10,000 first-place prize. StoryTime sends stories and activities to low-income families via text to encourage early literacy. Spring, a clinical tool that diagnoses patients with depression and matches patients with the most effective treatment, won second place and $2,000. The team features April Koh (YC ’16), Abhishek Chandra (YC’16) and Adam Chekroud, (PhD ‘20). The third place winner with $1,000 was IvySpot, founded by Doug Hanlon, Associate Research Scientist in Dermatology at Yale, which offers a portable wipe for removing urushiol (which causes the poison ivy rash) from skin.
The $25,000 Sabin Prize, which is awarded by CBEY to the best Yale venture tackling an environmental problem, went to Renewal Mill—a venture that utilizes undervalued waste streams from current food production processes to create nutritious products—beginning with okara, a flour-like substance that contains a nourishing mix of fiber and protein. Okara is left behind when soy milk is strained from cooked and blended soy beans. The venture combines the talents of Sumit Kadakia (MEM/MBA ’16) and Claire Schlemme (MEM ’11). Appalachian Roots – Hemp 2.0, from Nathan Hall (MEM ‘16/MBA ’17), which is introducing hemp crops to Eastern Kentucky, won the Sabin audience prize.
InnovateHealth Yale’s Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education—also a $25,000 prize—went to Spring, which addresses the serious public health problem of patients not receiving the right medication to treat their depression. Research done by team member Adam Chekroud and published in the Lancet, forms the basis of the venture’s platform to better match patients with effective antidepressants using a machine-learning approach.
The final presentations of the day were for the Miller Prize, a new $25,000 prize from YEI which is awarded to the best Yale student or faculty venture in one of three areas—Internet of Things, Big Data or Materials Science. That award went to Yale CS professor Daniel Abadi for his venture Unifile, a global unified file system for all data across an enterprise with no limits on the number or size of files. An earlier startup by Abadi called Hadapt developed through YEI was later acquired by Teradata.
For the first time this year, winners of the Sabin, Thorne and Miller Prizes receive automatic acceptance into the YEI Fellowship–a 10-week summer bootcamp for accelerating ventures with $15,000, mentorship, education and pitching opportunities. The YEI Fellowship provides these promising ventures with the tools they need to fine-tune their startups and the connections to corporate partners, investors and other experts to get them up and running.