The Innovative Spirit Honored at Startup Yale 2022
For the third year, Startup Yale honored the innovative spirit of those in the Yale and Greater New Haven community. Kicking off on April 28th, the university’s biggest entrepreneurship awards were presented over three days of pitches and celebrations. After applying in March, 28 teams of both for-profit and nonprofit ventures shared their work in areas from therapeutic farming to surgical technology. Each pitch was judged by a panel of experts, academics, entrepreneurs, and investors that specialize in their given field. Over $135,000 in cash prizes were awarded during the virtual ceremonies which included in-person watch parties complete with snacks and giveaways. Meet this year’s Startup Yale winners:
On the first day of Startup Yale, the New Haven Civic Innovation Prize was split between two teams: Healing by Growing Farms (Camila Guiza-Chavez, Ivette Ruiz, Yuka Matsubara), receiving $8,000, and Inspired Centre of Infinite Learning (Dominiq Oti, ARC ’22), a interior renovation project with the clear intent to transform the use of an existing interior space into a training centre, winning $2,000. This prize provides up to $10,000 to the best student- or community-led project dedicated to the City of New Haven. It is the only Startup prize open not only to Yale students, but also to applicants across the city. Attendees also had the opportunity to vote for the audience choice award which went to On Memory (Bea Soto YC ’24, Jade Villegas YC ’24, Joaquin Soto YC ’24) in the amount of $500. On Memory seeks to transform a brownfield into the Memorial Art Park, designed by and for New Haven community members to promote healing through the arts.
On day two, the Rita Wilson Prize Fund in Support of Innovation and Entrepreneurship was presented in the morning. Created in 2019 with a generous gift to the Yale School of Public Health, the prize awards up to $10,000 to the best student-led venture focused on creating a technological solution to address a health disparity impacting the nation. The winner for this prize was Adiona (Joshua Kim YC ’23, Katherine Sylvester ’23). The $500 audience choice prize went to VivorCare (Hil Moss SOM ’22).
Next, was the Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education which awards $25,000 to the best venture seeking to address health or educational disparities among underserved populations. The Educator Wellness Project (Nicola Fleischer SOM ’22) took home this award, and the audience choice winner was Balma Health (Sophia De Oliveira YC ’24, Nickolas De Oliveira).
The Miller Prize, whose past recipients included the popular Snackpass (2018), awarded $25,000 to a project centered on technological solutions that have a definable go-to-market strategy. Finalists for this award also received mentorship, feedback, and networking opportunities to aid in the development of their ventures. This year the award went to Panluminate (Joerg Bewersdorf, Ons M’Saad GRD ’22, Tom Friedlander), the creators of a pan-Expansion Microscopy that will revolutionize biological research by enabling the average scientist to acquire high-end tD images of their samples at a fraction of the time, cost, and difficulty of current state-of-the-art methods. The audience choice winner and recipient of $500 was Sweetgum Lab (He “Vera” Wang SOM ’22, Michael Guan, Xinxin Tang).
The final day of Startup Yale 2022 included three more prizes. Sponsored by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, the $25,000 Sustainable Venture Prize was awarded to Aatma Leather (Jinali Mody YSE ’23, Vidit Bhandarkar GRD ’24) for advances in environmental sustainability. Aatma Leather Manufactures mango leather from mango peel and core waste while ensuring comparable quality to animal hide and selling B2B to fashion houses for products like belts, shoes, bags and car manufacturers for seats as we move towards more environmentally friendly, cruelty-free substitutes. They were also the winners of the audience choice award.
Midnight Oil Collective (Edwin Joseph MUS ’20, Frances Pollock MUS ’20, Sola Fadiran DRA ’22, Emily Roller) won the Manolo Sanchez Prize which is a brand new donor-funded prize of $25,000 for ventures that seek to improve the financial health of the financially underserved. The audience choice winner was Pocketful (Sarvam Goel SOM ’22), a vernacular, community-driven, stock trading and investing platform who aims to democratize access to financial markets in India by making stock markets simple, safe and available in regional languages.
To wrap up Startup Yale 2022, the final prize of $15,000 was awarded to Frailty Myths (Erinn Carter, Georgia Faye Hirsty SOM ’22) for the Yale Innovators Prize. This prize is awarded to the for-profit or non-profit startup that has the potential to produce the greatest impact (financially, socially, or otherwise). The audience choice winner was IvyTech Design LLC. (Josh Vogel YC ’23, Nicholas Szabo YC ’23, Steven Tommasini), a project that would give surgeons better access to joint and fracture surfaces than a traditional bone distractor when cleaning as well as more accurate alignment and uniform force distribution during compression.