Inaugural award celebrates faculty entrepreneurs

The Faculty Innovation Awards, presented by Yale Ventures, recognized 12 Yale faculty that have recently founded startups and raised at least $1 million in investment capital in the last year.

Alex Ye

1:49 am, October 10, 2022

staff reporter

Lily Dorstewitz, Contributing Photographer

More and more Yale faculty are delving into the world of entrepreneurship.

Yale Ventures, a university initiative started Earlier this year to promote entrepreneurship, the Greenberg Center celebrated the recipients of its first faculty innovation awards on Monday. The award honors faculty members who have founded a new startup and raised at least $1 million in investment capital in the past year.

Yale administrators, deans, and other faculty members presented the awards. The majority of recognized startups were biotechnology or therapy companies, with five of the 12 innovation awards going to PhD faculty members.

“We wanted to recognize faculty who are making the effort to create a start-up company in addition to their day job,” said Josh Geballe, executive director of Yale Ventures. “It requires a tremendous amount of extra work, work that is often unappreciated and involves significant risk.”

According to Geballe, Yale Ventures is a Yale entrepreneurship and innovation hub that provides resources to support new startups founded by faculty and students. The organization supports the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking and provides guidance for faculty entrepreneurs, among many other activities.

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The event follows a broader effort by the university to increase support for faculty innovation. The university officially announced this earlier this year Yale Ventures Initiative that emerged after 11 Yale startups raised $53.3 million in 2021.

One of the awardees, John Krystal, explained that the The event recognized the “incredible research” being conducted at Yale and its potential to develop into patents, licenses and new businesses. Crystal is a Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Psychology at Yale School of Medicine and co-founder of Freedom Biosciences, the develops new treatments for depression and related disorders.

“We’ve been fortunate that over the past decade, many startups have emerged from Yale that have grown and introduced new therapeutics and other products brought to the market and promoted the creation of jobs.” said Geballe. “At the same time, we think we’re just getting started. We think that with more support and investment to our faculty, we should be able to support more faculty innovation and make an even greater impact.”

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Sterling Professors Akiko Iwasaki and Anna Pyle were also honored for their startup RIGImmune.

According to Pyle, the company Development of new molecules to control the “innate” immune system, which is our fast-acting “first responder” against infectious agents. Unlike the “adaptive” immune system, which can take several days to develop antibodies, the “innate” system reacts within minutes and initiates a powerful antiviral response.

“I am grateful to Yale Ventures for their generous support of our inventions,” Pyle wrote in an email to the News. “The work of patenting ideas, protecting them, and then building a company around them is extremely challenging and would never have been possible without the dedication and time of our colleagues at Yale Ventures.”

Pyle added that the awards ceremony brought together many people who would not normally meet in person or who have worked on opposite sides of the table to negotiate positions and terms of business.

Craig Crews, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology – another honoree – said the alignment of founder-friendly policies and recent innovation initiatives have created “an exciting momentum” for Yale’s entrepreneurial community.

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Crews’ startup, Siduma Therapeutics, is a New Haven-based biotechnology company focused on developing a new approach to targeting disease-causing proteins.

In addition to crews, several startup founders in the field of biotechnology were recognized at the event, an industry that flooded during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021, US and European biotechs put together a sum $36.83 billion – a record amount – according to Silicon Valley Bank.

“Because we have such a large medical school and so much research in life sciences, that’s where we’ve seen most startups form in the past,” Geballe said. “Yale is a true pioneer in life sciences.”

In addition to Crews, Pyle, Iwasaki and Krystal, other honorees included Ranjit Bindra, Seth Herzon, Alan Anticevic, John Murray, Demetrios Braddock, Farren Isaacs, Sidi Chen and Aaron Ring.

Yale Ventures headquarters is located in 433 temples st


Alex Ye covers faculty and academics. Previously he carried the endowment capital, the financing and the donations. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, he is a sophomore at Timothy Dwight University majoring in applied mathematics.

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