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Venture Lab: Yale’s New Faculty Innovation Program


Venture Lab: Yale’s New Faculty Innovation Program

Yale is home to more than 70 core research facilities and 5,000 faculty members spanning research disciplines. An increasing number of Yale faculty members are actively working on new ventures and seeking support to launch their ideas into the world. Addressing the growing needs of these faculty innovators, Venture Lab has launched as a catalyst to support these entrepreneurs working to reach their next venture milestone. The program supports faculty with expert industry mentorship and business support. From early-stage ventures defining their audience to mature startups raising a round of funding, the program works with Yale faculty and their ventures at all stages.

“Venture Lab isn’t just for an academic PI who has never done a startup. Venture Lab is a resource that clearly should be tapped by anyone thinking of any type of startup at most stages. It’s unique at Yale as an infrastructure to start spinning out more companies at a higher velocity which is the best way to translate some of the best science at Yale,” said Dr. Ranjit Bindra.

Venture Lab is organized around a series of workshops, interactive and intensive coaching sessions each centered on a problem or inflection point faced by a faculty entrepreneur. These sessions include the faculty participants and their venture team, carefully matched with EIRs (Entrepreneurs/Experts-in–Residence) who are experienced executives, entrepreneurs, and investors with deep experience in their respective industries. In addition to these expert mentors, Yale graduate students join these sessions serving as Venture Lab Fellows. These fellows complete the team and help prepare each workshop participant with business analysis, from market sizing to financial modeling, preparing all participants with fundamental analysis the team can employ as it faces problems or inflection points.

“As an EIR for Yale Ventures, it's fun to be part of this evolution and support Venture Lab, because there's great work coming out of Yale and there can be great companies and great products to come with that too,” said Alex Waldron, a global biopharmaceutical business leader and Yale Ventures EIR.

In its first year, Venture Lab convened 22 faculty workshops with Yale faculty engaging 60 EIRs working with 8 graduate student fellows. Venture Lab is the brainchild of Jim Boyle, Executive Director for Faculty Innovation at Yale, who leads the program alongside Min Kim, Associate Director for Venture Lab. Workshop areas included therapeutics, digital health, and medical devices. In the coming year, the Venture Lab team will be working to host workshops with the Roberts Fund Awardees, whose areas of innovation span artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and decentralized finance to name a few.

This year Dr. Ranjit Bindra participated in a series of Venture Lab workshops for his seed-stage venture, ModifyBio, a Yale spinout from the Bindra-Herzon lab. As one of the later-stage ventures that Venture Lab has hosted, Bindra’s workshop focused on positioning materials for investors as it considers an additional round of funding. “Our goal was manifold. How does our pitch deck look and how can we determine its missing pieces? We worked with our EIR mentors to determine if we needed a market analysis and revenue projections. And then we explored a deeper set of questions regarding our next round of fundraising. Having EIRs with relevant expertise—active investors and executives in the specific space of oncology therapeutics participate in the Venture Lab Workshop was the differentiator—it went beyond general feedback,” explained Dr. Ranjit Bindra.

“As the Venture Lab team looks ahead to the coming year, we're planning on increasing the number of faculty we work with and the domains we serve. While historically we have worked with faculty from Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health, we're eager to expand the reach of Venture Lab, and work with faculty entrepreneurs from all areas of Yale who will benefit from industry expert mentorship and hands-on workshops," said Min Kim, Associate Director of Venture Lab.

Through collaboration with industry experts and graduate student fellows, Venture Lab not only nurtures the growth of faculty-led ventures but also contributes to a growing ecosystem of innovation resources on Yale’s campus.  

If you're interested in learning more about Venture Lab or participating in a workshop, email Min Kim