New initiative Yale Ventures to promote innovation and entrepreneurship

Courtesy of Yale Ventures

University on Tuesday morning announced the creation of Yale Ventures, a new initiative designed to help faculty and students bring their ideas to medical, technology, science and engineering startups and support innovation and entrepreneurship throughout New Haven.

Yale Ventures is led by recently appointed Senior Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Josh Geballe. The initiative aims to provide more structured support for innovations developed at the university, converting ideas into startups, facilitating corporate sponsorship and growing the entrepreneurial community in the region. It is organized into four main units: Intellectual Property and Licensing Services, Innovation Training and Startups, Corporate Partnerships and Innovation Community. Each of these units will be funded with new university investments.

“The launch of Yale Ventures is an important step in expanding the impact Yale will have in solving many of the world’s greatest challenges,” said Geballe. “New Haven is booming with exciting startups conceived and led by talented people at the cutting edge of medicine, science and technology who are excited to see their work result in new products and services that make a big impact. Yale Ventures intends to play a key role in making New Haven a globally recognized center of innovation, and this is the ideal time to undertake this exciting transformation.”

Geballe said the seed for Yale Ventures was planted over a year ago by Vice Provost for Research Michael Crair. Crair conducted research on how to expand support for entrepreneurship and innovation at Yale and spoke with stakeholders inside and outside the university and with other universities. His research eventually culminated in the creation of the Senior Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Innovation position, for which the university began recruiting last summer.

Geballe said the program was designed specifically for Yale.

“We have a unique equation and strengths here at Yale and in Connecticut,” he said. “We want to tailor this new program to play on those strengths and grow over time in a way that is unique to Yale.”

Given the ongoing For Humanity fundraising campaign, Geballe said this initiative was consistent with the university’s overall vision and said there was “growing recognition” from the university and from the university’s president, Peter Salovey, that Yale had an “important responsibility.” for translating research into products, services and solutions to solve the world’s problems.

In 2021, 11 Yale startups launched with $53.3 million in new venture funding. In the past five years, there have been five record-breaking IPOs for Yale spinouts Arvinas, BioHaven, Inozyme, NextCure, and IsoPlexis.

“At Yale, we nurture connections across campus to drive innovation that benefits individuals and communities,” Salovey said in the announcement. “Our investment in Yale Ventures will ensure our faculty and student entrepreneurs have the support they need to tackle humanity’s most critical challenges. We are fully committed to Yale Ventures’ inclusive approach and ambitious vision, and I look forward to seeing it.”

Geballe said Yale Ventures will include new investments in faculty and programmatic support, although he would not disclose budget details as the university’s budget process is still ongoing.

According to Geballe, over the past 10 years, the university’s expansion in terms of faculty and research investments has grown, but investment in the Office of Operative Research, which focuses on translating research into innovation and startups, has remained relatively stagnant.

“Creativity and collaboration are hallmarks of our research company at Yale,” University Provost Scott Strobel said in the announcement. “Yale Ventures gives us the opportunity to fully exploit their potential. Led by Josh Geballe, along with our partners in New Haven, and with new strategic investments, we are poised to make a significant impact in the years to come.”

The Intellectual Property and Licensing Services Division will work with faculty, staff and students to support technology transfer efforts such as the disclosure, patenting and licensing of new inventions developed at Yale. The unit will be led by the existing business development and operations teams that were formerly part of the Office of Cooperative Research, whose name is being retired. However, the group is expanding, and this expansion aims to increase proactive outreach across the university.

The Innovation Training and Startups department will continue to support students and faculty through existing programs including the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation, the Center for Biomedical Innovation and Technology, and the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking. The main goal of this unit is to transform ideas and inventions into startups or initiatives to have a positive global impact and new programs are added to further support this effort. According to Geballe, this unit will focus on mentoring, access, connections to potential investors and research strategies to help faculty understand business models for translating research.

The Corporate Partnerships unit will focus on strengthening corporate relationships in support of Yale research, as well as improving access to private partner resources. This work will continue to develop under the joint direction of the Yale Development Office and the Crair Office.

Geballe said the corporate partnerships team will focus on “collaborations with large organizations where we have overlapping areas of interest related to research and innovation,” where the company will sponsor certain research being conducted at Yale. Citing the example of the gift Yale received from FedEx in the past to fund the Carbon Capture Research Center, he said the university already had “extensive partnerships” with Alexion and AstraZeneca.

The fourth unit, the Innovation Community Team, will work to build the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem at the university and the greater New Haven area and aims to develop an expanded mentoring network and equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives, investor services, community partnerships and career connections to implement.

Geballe said expanding roles at Yale Ventures will focus primarily on expanding mentorship and scholarship programs. He told the News that there are currently “pockets” of mentor networks, but there is no way to engage alumni or people in the Connecticut ecosystem who want to support new ventures. Bringing these mentor networks together, Geballe said, will help faculty and students have a “complete view” of the people willing to help them in their endeavors.

Yale Ventures plans to partner with student organizations like the Yale Biotech Club and work with New Haven organizations like BioCT and Connecticut Innovations to offer internships and jobs to students after graduation. Geballe said Connecticut’s startup ecosystem is “robust” and “vibrant,” so he sees many opportunities for Yale students to stay in New Haven after graduation.

Geballe added that new initiatives related to vocational training programs are currently being planned. Geballe said chemistry and biology professor Craig Crews has led a new job training program aimed at connecting New Haven residents with opportunities to become laboratory assistants to support New Haven businesses. Yale Ventures will also work with the Center for Inclusive Growth.

The announcement explained that Yale Ventures will support existing innovation efforts in New Haven. The university announced in 2021 that it will operate an innovation center at 101 College St. and biotech incubator BioLabs will be housed at the location. Arvinas, who came out of Yale, will also be based at the 101 College St. and AstraZeneca site previously announced plans to expand to New Haven after acquiring Alexion.

“We have a robust network of Yale researchers, alumni and partners working in the innovation space,” Crair said in the announcement. “And we have a long tradition of turning research results into real solutions. What is exciting about the arrival of Josh Geballe and the Yale Ventures initiative is the opportunity to leverage it in new ways and on an even greater scale.”

Geballe told the news that because of the giving-back nature of startup culture, there are many opportunities for alumni involved in startups to serve as mentors. He said there are often alumni who want to help support current innovation efforts, and Yale Ventures’ structure will connect alumni with opportunities to give back.

have new positions already added to work on this initiative and more will be announced in the coming weeks. Geballe will provide more details on the implementation and future of Yale Ventures during the 2022 Yale Innovation Summit, which take place on May 17th and 18th.

Josh Geballe began his new role at Yale on February 2nd.

Sarah Cook

Sarah Cook represents President Salovey’s cabinet and works on the social media team. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is a freshman at Grace Hopper majoring in Neuroscience.

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