Courtesy of Yale Ventures

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

Yale Ventures will be led by recently appointed Senior Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Josh Geballe. The initiative aims to provide more structured support for innovations designed at the University, transform ideas into startups, facilitate corporate sponsorships and grow the entrepreneurial community in the area. It will be organized into four primary 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 on addressing many of the world’s biggest challenges,” Geballe said. “New Haven is booming with exciting startups, imagined and led by talented people on the cutting edge of medicine, science and engineering, who are eager to see their work result in new products and services that make a large-scale impact. Yale Ventures intends to play a key role in making New Haven a globally recognized hub of innovation, and this is the ideal time to undergo this exciting transformation.”

Geballe said the seeds for Yale Ventures were planted over a year ago by Vice Provost for Research Michael Crair. Crair conducted research on how to expand Yale’s support of entrepreneurship and innovation, and spoke to stakeholders across and outside the University along with other universities. His research ultimately culminated in the creation of the Senior Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Innovation position, which the University began to recruit for last summer. 

Geballe said the program is designed specifically for Yale. 

“We have a unique equation and unique strengths here at Yale and in Connecticut,” he said. “We’re looking to tailor this new program to play to those strengths and to build on them over time in ways that are uniquely Yale.”

With the “For Humanity” capital campaign underway, Geballe said this initiative is consistent with the University’s overall vision, and said there is “growing recognition” from the University and from University President Peter Salovey that Yale has an “important responsibility” to translate research into products, services and solutions to address the world’s problems. 

In 2021, 11 startups spun out of Yale with $53.3 million raised in new venture financing. A record-breaking five IPOs occurred in the past five years for Yale spinouts Arvinas, BioHaven, Inozyme, NextCure and IsoPlexis. 

“At Yale, we are nurturing connections across campus to drive innovation that benefits individuals and communities,” Salovey said in the announcement. “Our investment in Yale Ventures will ensure that our faculty and student entrepreneurs have the support they need to tackle the most critical challenges facing humankind. We are wholly committed to the integrative approach and ambitious vision of Yale Ventures, and I’m excited to see it realized.”

Geballe said Yale Ventures will involve new investments in faculty and programmatic support, although he would not disclose the budgetary details since the budget process for the University is still underway. 

According to Geballe, over the past 10 years, the expansion of the University in terms of faculty and research investments has grown but the investments in the Office of Operative Research focused on translating research into innovation and startups have remained relatively stagnant. 

“Creativity and collaboration are hallmarks of our research enterprise at Yale,” University Provost Scott Strobel said in the announcement. “Yale Ventures marks an opportunity for us to fully harness their potential. Under Josh Geballe’s leadership, alongside our partners in New Haven, and with new strategic investments, we are poised to drive significant impact in the coming years.”

The Intellectual Property and Licensing Services unit will work with faculty, staff and students to support technology transfer efforts such as disclosure, patenting and licensing of new inventions designed at Yale. The unit will be managed by the existing business development and operations teams that were previously part of the Office of Cooperative Research, which will have its name retired. However, the group will be expanded, and this expansion is aimed to increase proactive outreach across the University. 

The Innovation Training and Startups unit will continue supporting 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. This unit’s main goal is to help transform invention idea and inventions into startups or initiatives to have positive global impacts, and new programs will be added to further support these efforts. Geballe said this unit will focus on mentorship, access, connections to potential investors and research strategy to help faculty understand business models for translation of research. 

The Corporate Partnerships unit will focus on strengthening relationships with corporations in support of Yale research, as well as increasing access to resources from private partners. This work will continue to expand under joint direction from the Yale Office of Development and Crair’s office. 

Geballe said the Corporate Partnerships team will be focused on “collaborations with large organizations where we have overlapping areas of interest in terms of research and innovation,” in which the corporation will sponsor certain research being done at Yale. He gave the example of the gift given to Yale from FedEx in the past to fund the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, and he said the University already has “extensive partnerships” with Alexion and AstraZeneca. 

The fourth unit, the Innovation Community team, will work to build the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem across the University and Greater New Haven, and aims to implement an expanded mentor network and equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives, investor services, community partnerships and career connections. 

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

Yale Ventures plans to work with student organizations including the Yale Biotech club and collaborate with organizations in New Haven including BioCT and Connecticut Innovations to help expose students to internship programs and jobs after graduation. Geballe said the startup ecosystem in Connecticut is “robust” and “dynamic,” so he sees many opportunities for Yale students to have opportunities to stay in New Haven after graduation. 

Geballe added there are currently new initiatives being planned related to job training programs. Geballe said professor of chemistry and biology Craig Crews has led a new job training program that aims to connect New Haven residents to opportunities to become laboratory assistants to help support companies in New Haven. Yale Ventures will also collaborate 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 run an innovation hub at 101 College St., and the biotech incubator BioLabs will be housed at this location. Arvinas, which came out of Yale, will also be located at the 101 College St. location, and AstraZeneca 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 well-established history of translating research into real-world solutions. What’s so exciting about Josh Geballe’s arrival and the Yale Ventures initiative is the chance to leverage these in new ways and to an even greater degree.”

Geballe told the News that due the nature of startup culture to give back, there are many opportunities for alumni involved in startups to act as mentors. He said there are often alums who want to help support current innovation efforts, and the structure of Yale Ventures will connect alumni to opportunities to give back. 

New positions have already been added to work on this initiative, and more will be announced in coming weeks. Geballe will share additional details about the implementation and future of Yale Ventures during the 2022 Yale Innovation Summit, which will be held May 17 and 18. 

Josh Geballe took on his new role at Yale on Feb. 14. 

Correction, April 13: This article has been updated with the correct name of the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture. Additionally, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Geballe started in his new role on Feb. 2. In fact, he began on Feb. 14.

SARAH COOK
Sarah Cook covers President Salovey's Cabinet and works on the social media team. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is a first year in Grace Hopper majoring in Neuroscience.