FluidScreen Wins 2014 Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize

FluidScreen, a biotech company being started at Yale by three graduate students, has taken first prize in the 2014 Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize. The win provides electrical engineering doctoral student Monika Weber, chemical engineering doctoral candidate Şeyla Azoz, and School of Management MBA candidates Anthony Lynn and Nate Gorence with $25,000 to develop their business plan into a for-profit business that advances a more sustainable way of life.

FluidScreen is also the name of the company's signature invention, a disposable electronic device that can detect bacteria in liquids like blood or water in less than 30 minutes. We described their invention earlier this week in our profile of the team's recent competition success:

With the press of a button, the device, which is about the size of a quarter, pumps the blood or water into an integrated microfluidic system that uses an electric field to separate any present bacteria from the liquid; nanowire field effect transistors in the device are then able to sense the small concentration of bacteria. When the analysis is done, the device sends the results to a smartphone.

“So, imagine you get a sinus infection,” says Weber. “Not knowing which antibiotic could treat the disease, a patient currently ends up using three or four antibiotics to clear the infection. This leads to any number of side effects and, on a larger scale, to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. With FluidScreen, the doctor would instead take a mucous swab from the patient’s nose and put it on the device. Within half an hour, he’d know which specific antibiotic will work on this specific bacteria, making the treatment much more efficient.”

In addition to the technology, both Weber and Azoz credit their competition success to their participation in the School of Engineering’s Advanced Graduate Leadership Program (AGLP), a competitive program that provides doctoral students with experiences and training beyond the research lab. Through the program, the team received coaching from professors at the Yale School of Management, thereby preparing them for submissions.

Funded by the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation and managed by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, the Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize competition provides opportunities for participants to meet and pitch their ideas to top venture capitalists and leading industry professionals.