Changing Lives: Innovation to Impact Launches at Yale


This November, Yale announced a national program called Innovation to Impact to empower substance use researchers to translate their innovation from the lab to the world. This program, founded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), will launch in New Haven from April 23-27, 2018, with a focus on product development and entrepreneurship. Participants will learn diverse skills through hands-on-learning activities with guidance from a team of top-tier educators and entrepreneurs.

Nearly 20 million people are struggling with substance use disorders, leaving a yearly $193B economic impact in the US, said Patricia Simon, Ph.D., Associate Research Scientist in Psychiatry at Yale and Program Director of Innovation to Impact. Innovations that could help substance users are not reaching the public fast enough.

“There are many academia [pieces of research] that can be beneficial but haven’t been applied to real world widely,” said Simon. “Entrepreneurship is a way to solve that problem. One of the sessions that I am really excited about is that we will talk a bit about models of entrepreneurship within academia. We want to equip researchers with the right tools to commercialize their innovations.”

Innovation to Impact at Yale was developed with the overriding goal to address this challenge and advance ideas to impact the world. “Accepted researchers will participate in a training program led by a team of entrepreneurs and educators who are skilled in advancing early technologies to the market. The program also provides seed funding and on-going mentorship,” said Seth Feuerstein, M.D., J.D., Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Medical Officer of Medical and Digital Innovation at Magellan Healthcare and Principal Investigator/Program Director of Innovation to Impact in a press release. Multiple pathways will be explored, including pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, biomedical devices, app development, behavioral interventions, and public policy.

Simon hopes that the program will draw applicants from all over the country. “This program is first of its kind that NIDA has founded, and we are moving to make New Haven a hub for substance addiction-related entrepreneurship. It opens to companies that are not only early stages, but also a little bit along the further stages. Any innovator in the country who is interested in exploring how to apply creative solutions to target substance abuse and bring a product to market is welcomed,” she said.

The application became available on December 1, 2017 and the deadline is January 5, 2018. Visit or email to learn more.

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