Skip to Main Content


Inside YEI’s Venture Creation Consultant Program

November 10, 2015

YCCI supports the Venture Creation Consultant (VCC) program, a valuable resource offered through the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI) that provides specialized expertise for advancing new Yale ventures. This select group of graduate and professional student consultants brings significant business expertise to YEI startups in such areas as biomedical engineering, market research, and software development. Over a period of about six weeks, pairs of VCCs consult on projects and then present their findings to the client. The VCCs are led this year by Nancy Tao, a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry who is developing molecules that amplify the immune response against HIV in collaboration with scientists at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Below are four successful VCC startup projects supported by YEI and YCCI:

KnackTime Interactive (Medical School – Faculty)

KnackTime makes video games that teach critical life skills, addressing such issues as HIV, drug and alcohol abuse, obesity, and bullying. Its first game, PlayForward: Elm City Stories is focused on HIV/STI prevention and won the 2013 Gold Medal in the Healthcare/ Medical category of the International Serious Play Awards. The goal is to provide a version for schools distributed via counselors, and an app version of the game that parents and mentors can download.

KnackTime is led by Lynn Fiellin, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine (YSM); Ben Sawyer, cofounder of DigitalMill; Kimberly Hieftje, PhD, associate research scientist at YSM; Lindsay Duncan, PhD, assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and physical education at McGill University; and Tyra Pendergrass, MEM, who received her Masters of Environmental Management degree from Yale.

Thoracostomy Chest Tube Insertion Tool (CBIT)

Juan Pablo Arroyo, MD, PhD, and his team are developing an improvement to a chest tube insertion device used by surgeons when they are draining fluid from a collapsed lung. Many physicians have difficulty inserting these tubes, which leads to medical complications. This team is led by Arroyo, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics.

Improvement for Implantable Devices (CBIT)

Pramod Bonde, MD, associate professor of surgery, is working on game-changing technologies for left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) for patients with heart failure. This technology is expected to expand the patient population several-fold. The team is led by Bonde, who is also surgical director of Mechanical Circulatory Support and principal investigator of the Bonde Artificial Heart Lab.

Wellinks (Yale College)

Wellinks (formerly 109 Design) is a wearable health technology company commercializing a device that attaches to scoliosis braces and collects data on how patients wear them. The startup is also developing a smartphone app that lets patients, parents, and doctors easily track brace data. The startup received $100,000 from the YEI Innovation Fund as well as support from the UConn Proof of Concept Fund. It was also named one of Inc. Magazine's “50 Emerging Global Entrepreneurs to Watch” and one of the “11 Best Spine Technologies of 2014” by Spine Magazine, as well as a “Connecticut Tech Company to Watch” by the Connecticut Technology Council. Wellinks was cofounded by Levi DeLuke (YC ’14), Sebastian Monzon (YC ’14) and Ellen Su (YC ’13).

Submitted by Lisa Brophy on November 11, 2015