Yale News

Josh Geballe ’97 ’02 MBA has spent the last two years attempting to modernize Connecticut’s state government. Now, he’s headed to Yale to push entrepreneurship and innovation at the University and in New Haven.

Geballe, who has served as a top aide to Governor Ned Lamont as the state’s chief operating officer, will become the University’s first associate provost for entrepreneurship and innovation when he begins his new position on Feb. 14. His post in the Lamont cabinet included extensive involvement in the state’s pandemic response. Geballe formerly worked as an executive at IBM and at Thermo Fisher Scientific as vice president and general manager of the digital science division. 

“Josh Geballe has been an extraordinary leader for this state, an extraordinary leader at DAS, extraordinary leader in chief operating officer and a really important friend for me during an incredibly complex time,” Lamont said at a press conference on Tuesday. “One of the things that makes him so special is that he put together an extraordinary team of his own, and that’s the mark of a real leader.” 

According to a press release from the University, as part of his new associate provost role, Geballe will act as the managing director of the Office of Cooperative Research and “partner closely” with the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking and its executive director Clare Leinweber. 

Geballe said in the Tuesday press conference that the new position was created in the fall, and it was a “dream job” for him. He told reporters that he hopes to provide support to existing efforts at the University. 

“This role is intended to help enhance and provide additional support to the faculty and the students and even people in the broader community to help them take that innovation and launch it out into the world and have the greatest impact,” Geballe said. “This will often take the form of new startup businesses being created in and around New Haven and create jobs and import talent and capital and help grow the local economy and create opportunities.” 

Leinweber wrote to the News that she is looking forward to working with Geballe in “expanding and deepening innovation pathways” through the work of Tsai CITY. 

Garret Sheehan, the CEO of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, wrote to the News that he is also excited to see Geballe in his new position. 

“Josh has had a tremendously positive impact on our state over the last two years as he steadily supported Governor Lamont through the pandemic, but I actually believe Josh will be even more impactful to Connecticut’s future in this new role.” Sheehan wrote to the News. 

Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Howard Forman told the News he is excited about how the new role Geballe is filling will centralize entrepreneurship and innovation efforts at the University. 

Forman told the News that while there has been a managing director for the Office of Cooperative Research in the past, the office has historically contained entrepreneurs who were not “100 percent” working for the University. 

“I think it has been desperately needed for a long time,” Forman told the News, “I mean, you know, I’ve been here 26 years right now, and during that time, entrepreneurship has been scattered around the university in different places.”

According to the University’s press release, OCR has generated $3.7 billion in venture capital investments and over 6,000 patents. The press release also cited the University’s entrepreneurship efforts with the 101 College Street bioscience tower and the founding of Alexion pharmaceuticals and Arvinas Inc. by Yale faculty as recent successes upon which Geballe is excited to expand. 

Forman noted that significant work has been done in recent years at Yale to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, including the establishment of Tsai CITY, the development of the Center for Biomedical Innovation and Technology and the recruiting of Kyle Jensen at the School of Management. 

However, Forman said the new position will allow for a point person for anyone wanting to work in entrepreneurship, which Yale has never before had. Forman hopes that in his role Geballe will be able to advance the University’s work with startups both at Yale and in the city of New Haven. 

“Yale has attracted enormous dollars of investment and research funds for a lot of these startups and we’re going to continue to do that and if we want to be successful in University, if we want to continue to support the city of New Haven, and the state of Connecticut, it really helps a lot to have somebody with his talents in his role,” Forman said.

Leinweber echoed that this new role will help centralize the University’s vision. 

In announcing Geballe’s departure, Lamont emphasized the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in the state of Connecticut, and he said Geballe’s work at Yale could help the area become more like areas such as the Research Triangle in North Carolina and Silicon Valley. 

“We have some work to-do as a state to make sure we keep our entrepreneurial juices going,” Lamont said. “That often starts with an amazing education system and an extraordinary university system. We have one of the best in the world at Yale University and Josh is going to be making sure those extraordinary ideas have an innovative aspect to them, have a commercial aspect to them. What you see at the Research Triangle, what you see at Silicon Valley, you’re going to see the next generation platform right here in the state of Connecticut and Josh Geballe has an opportunity to play a key role there.”  

But Patrick Hayes ’24 noted to the News that there is already significant entrepreneurship in New Haven, pointing to BioHaven as an example. Hayes said he hopes to see Geballe focus his attention on supporting inclusivity and equity within New Haven’s entrepreneurial scene.

“It’s not a challenge that we need to have this big industry, it’s kind of here, but there’s a serious lack of opportunity for people that aren’t in the Yale bubble,” Hayes said. 

Hayes worked for Data Haven, a non-profit focused on economic development,  this past summer, where he worked on projects to raise funds for businesses run by people of color. 

He told the News that he sees the benefit in using faculty research for entrepreneurship, but he hopes that Geballe will also engage with New Haven organizations working on economic development, especially those supporting Black communities. 

“If you’re really trying to engage with the city as a whole, which is also something it seems like the University claims they want to do, there are a lot of other partners in the city that they really need to engage with,” Hayes told the News. 

Hayes pointed to the University’s recent voluntary contribution increase to the city of New Haven, as well as its creation of the Center for Inclusive Growth to address long-term inequity in New Haven and promote sustainable economic development, as recent progress towards these efforts and signs that the University might be moving in the right direction.

Geballe left the private sector to begin his role in the Lamont administration in early 2019. 

Sarah Cook is one of the University editors. She previously covered student policy and affairs, along with President Salovey's cabinet. From Nashville, Tennessee, she is a junior in Grace Hopper majoring in Neuroscience.