New program to promote health entrepreneurship

Looking to occupy an unfilled niche in Yale’s health and entrepreneurial worlds, InnovateHealth Yale, or IHY, is slated to become the first health enterprise program on campus.

IHY, which has been in the planning stages for the past two years, intends to serve as a hub for those interested in developing innovative ideas to address the world’s most pressing health challenges. The program is based at the Yale School of Public Health and is led by professor Martin Klein ’86 SPH, associate dean for Development and External Affairs at the School of Public Health, but aims to unite students across all schools in the University with its academic offerings, internship opportunities and annual health innovation competition.

“We want to create a home at Yale for students interested in social entrepreneurship and health innovation,” said Aly Moore ’14, who recently began working with Klein on the program.

A number of entrepreneurship prizes already exist at Yale, but none are specifically tailored to the health field, said Ruchit Nagar ’15, who is helping plan the first annual health innovation competition. Featuring a $25,000 prize, the competition aims to inspire students to come up with ideas and formalize existing ones, he added.

Klein said the criteria for the competition are intentionally broad, encompassing everything from innovative devices for personal health to public awareness documentaries. Klein added that entrants can even submit proposals for non-profit organizations or for-profit businesses that tackle public health issues. Regardless of form, all proposals should be financially sustainable, Klein said.

“That’s one of the things that’s going to be a challenge for these meritorious ideas — to be able to identify a funding source,” he added.

While the first three years of competition will be funded by a gift from Nathan and Margaret Thorne ’76 and ’77, Nagar said he hopes the publicity and success of the first three years will attract funding for future ones.

The initial deadline for the competition is Feb. 15, but Klein said the date may be pushed back to allow participants more time to prepare their proposals.

Beyond the competition, IHY will offer a health entrepreneurship course starting in spring 2015, co-taught by School of Management and School of Public Health faculty. Beyond offering traditional lectures, the class will ask students to propose solutions to real issues in public health. Moore said she expects there to be significant competition for the 24 spots in the course, eight of which are designated for students from the School of Public Health, eight for the School of Management, and eight for students from other schools.

IHY will also help Yale students identify health entrepreneurship internships, said Jessica Lopez ’15, who is working with Klein to scope out summer opportunities. Because many organizations in the field do not offer paid internships, IHY plans to fund students, Lopez said.

InnovateHealth Yale will host its first speaker, Ned Breslin, CEO of Water for People, on Dec. 5.

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