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Yale Office of Cooperative Research hosted the most inclusive Yale Innovation Summit in Event’s History

2021 Summit Graphic

From May 18 through May 21, 2021, Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research (OCR) hosted the seventh Yale Innovation Summit.

“Having to adapt our event to a virtual experience created some exciting opportunities. Specifically, we were able to accept submissions from more innovators than ever before; nearly 100 biotech and healthcare startups ranging from pre-company ideas to A and B round ventures were featured this year in an online Pitch Video Showcase, 36 of which competed live over three afternoons in front of 30 leading investors. The portfolio of projects and startups spotlighted are from the Yale community and Connecticut Innovations. These entrepreneurs were given the chance to present to executives from approximately 100 top venture capital groups attending the event, reaffirming that the Yale Innovation Summit is the best opportunity to be seen in Connecticut.” Bill Wiesler, Ph.D., M.B.A., Director of New Ventures and of Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale said.

Lauren Carmody, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Connecticut Innovations, who was the anchor sponsor again for the third consecutive year, said, “The Summit is an incredible place for us to highlight many of our portfolio companies and we appreciate the opportunity.  Yale’s Office of Cooperative research has such an incredible network of Venture Capital Investors, it simply makes sense for us to join the summit each year.  We all have the same goal of making Connecticut, and specifically New Haven, a hub for innovators, and our companies so look forward to being included.”

The three afternoons of pitches were followed by a day of three panel discussions: 1) Careers Outside of Academia, 2) New Haven: The Next Kendell Square, 3) Impact: Why We Do What We Do, and an awards ceremony.

The more than 100 panelists, judges, Yale hosts, moderators, and pitchers made this Summit agenda one for the books!  Likewise, the summit featured a special Encore session entitled “Igniting Women Innovators,” whose goal was to bring together female change-makers to discuss experiences and the resources available to women innovators. The inaugural amplifyHERscience Award was given to Anjelica Gonzalez in recognition of her perseverance on the journey from idea to impact.

First, second and third place awards were given out for each pitch day. Those recipients are:

Pitch Day 1: BIOTECH - Pharmaceuticals & Biotherapeutics

1st Place - Erika Smith, ReNetX

2nd Place - Demetrios Braddock, Net Therapeutics

3rd Place - Ashley Kalinauskas, Torigen

Pitch Day 2: TECH - MedTech, Digital Health, Engineering & Software, Diagnostics

1st Place - Kevin Rocco, Biorez

2nd Place - Mike Theran, CoRISMA

3rd Place - Greg Tietjen, Revalia Bio

Pitch Day 3: BIOTECH – Oncology

1st Place - Aaron Ring, Simcha

2nd Place - Faye Rogers, Targeted Therapeutics for Cancers with Gene Amplification

3rd Place - Gloria Huang, New Treatment Strategy for ARID1A-Mutated Cancers

Additionally, the 2021 Blavatnik Awardees were named by Michael C. Crair, PhD, Vice Provost for Research at Yale during the awards ceremony at the closing of the Summit.

The new 2021 Blavatnik awardees are:

  • Choukri Ben Mamoun, PhD, professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and of microbial pathogenesis, for Virtus Therapeutics: A Novel Therapy for Pantothenate Kinase-Associated Neurodegeneration.
  • Demetrios Braddock, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology, for Net Therapeutics: Targeting NETs in Human Disease
  • Joseph Contessa, MD, PhD, professor of therapeutic radiology and of pharmacology, for Apira: Developing Therapeutic OST Inhibitors
  • Anjelica Gonzalez, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering, for Aero Therapeutics: Preclinical Validation of Low-Cost Versatile Respirator
  • Mustafa Khokha, MD, professor of pediatrics (critical care medicine), for Small Molecule Regulation of β-catenin Nuclear Transport: New Targets Against Cancer
  • Nikhil Malvankar, PhD, assistant professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, for Faster, Reliable & Scalable DNA Sequencing using Biomolecular Electronics
  • Faye Rogers, PhD, associate professor of therapeutic radiology, for TargetGene Therapeutics: Direct Targeting of Amplified Cancer Driver Genes as a Therapeutic Strategy

The Summit is traditionally designed to foster optimal networking across the innovation ecosystem, and despite the inability to meet in-person, Summit organizers report approximately 1,000 registrations, 600 unique attendees who tuned in throughout the week, and an average of 300 attendees at each session.  

“We weren’t going to let COVID get the last word this year,” explained Tim Opstrup, Director, Finance & Administration at Yale OCR. “We have such a vibrant innovation ecosystem and so many incredible innovators that want to share their ideas, we simply couldn’t let another year go by without the Summit.  We assembled a strong team and figured out a way to do it virtually.  We were so pleased with the results and grateful for the enthusiastic interest in participating in the Yale Innovation Summit this year.”

Opstrup continued, “I also want to make sure to recognize our 28 sponsors who stuck with us during this unorthodox time.  Without their support, this kind of multilayered event would not have been possible.”


***The virtual Summit platform will remain open for several days HERE, so please go explore recaps, the attendee list, Sponsor and Exhibitor booths, and the nearly 100 video pitches and decks featured in the PITCH VIDEO SHOWCASE!


Watch Pitch DAY 1 – Biotech: Pharmaceuticals & Biotherapeutics

Watch Pitch DAY 2 – Tech: MedTech, Digital Health, Engineering & Software, Diagnostics

Watch Pitch DAY 3 – Biotech: Oncology


Careers Outside of Academia

New Haven: The Next Kendell Square

Impact: Why We Do What We Do

Pitch Day Winners and 2021 Blavatnik Announcements

Summit Encore: Women Innovators Ignite

About the Yale Innovation Summit

The Yale Innovation Summit is the largest entrepreneurship event on campus, and the largest gathering of venture capital investors in Connecticut. Dozens of startups founded by Yale biotech and tech innovators are joined by top ventures from around the state to pitch their ideas in a” Shark Tank” format to prospective industry partners and investors. The Yale Innovation Summit offers unparalleled networking, education, and inspiration to the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem.