Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education


2015 Thorne Prize winners. (Left to right): Yale College students Henok Addis, Jillian Kravatz and Phil Esterman. StoryTime seeks to promote literacy and long-term health in New Haven.  

Read more about the finalists...

The Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education is a $25,000 cash prize awarded to the best student-led venture focused on social innovation in health or education. The prize will be awarded in the spring of each year to support a student or group of students beginning or continuing to develop a social enterprise or innovation focused on these two areas.

The winner of the Thorne Prize also receives legal services from Whithers Worldwide, consulting from Make Good, a marketing firm that specializes in social impact, automatic acceptance into the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute Fellowship (a summer program that provides a $15,000 stipend), and continued support from Yale faculty.

Stage 1: Letter of Intent

Interested participants are strongly encouraged (though not required) to submit a letter of intent. Entrants who submit a letter of intent will have the opportunity to be paired with a mentor, pending mentor availability.

Due: TBA

Stage 2: Written Application

Interested participants are required to submit a written application detailing their proposal. 

Due: TBA

Stage 3: Live Presentation

Selected applicants will be invited to offer a live pitch presentation of their venture to a panel of expert judges.

Date TBA

The winner will be announced immediately following the live presentations.

All full-time and part-time Yale students at all levels of education and from any department, registered in the current semesters of the competition (Fall 2015 and Spring 2016), are eligible to enter. Individuals that do not meet this requirement may join or form teams, provided that at least one of the principal contestants on the team is a current Yale student. Teams are encouraged to seek the involvement of people inside and outside the Yale community. Entries must be the original work of entrants and may be entered by an individual or a multi-member team. The size of a team is not restricted, and neither is the number of entries submitted by a team or an individual. However, participants in the Thorne Prize are strongly encouraged to only enter one time, as this is the most effective way for an individual or team to learn from the competition process in a focused manner. 

Teams that have already secured arrangements for capital from any source must disclose the amounts and sources clearly in their entries (i.e. sales revenues or contracts, research grants, and personal or family funds.)

If you are in need of team members or you are interested in joining another team, please use the InnovateHealth Yale Idea Sharing Facebook Page. Use this page to either post your need for specific team members or to express your interest in joining a team. When creating a post, please note the specific skills that your team needs or the skills that you as an individual can bring to a team.

So you want to participate but you’re not exactly sure how to build a financial model or write your business case? Worry not, we are here to help! Innovate Health Yale will offer a series of workshops, in collaboration with our partners, to get you from A to Z. To get the most up to date information on our workshops please go here.

Your proposals will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Problem definition
    • Has the team clearly articulated the problem? Does the team understand the competitive landscape? Has the team identified its goals and priorities?
  • Target population definition
    • Has the team defined its target population? Is this target population reasonably reachable and “influencable” by the product or service?
  • Product or service definition
    • Has the team clearly articulated the product? Is the value proposition clear? Does the product meet the needs of the target population? To what extent is this product or service different from what exists already?
  • Potential for social impact
    • Has the team defined the target social issue? Does the proposed product or service directly address this social issue? How much potential is there to scale the proposed product or service for social impact?
  • Innovation
    • Is the product or service fundamentally different from what exists today? Will the product or service change the existing paradigm of healthcare service or delivery? Does the product or service seem likely to challenge existing structures?
  • Evaluation
    • How does the team plan to measure progress against its goals? What metrics will it use to evaluate health improvement? Are these metrics readily available and if not, how will they be collected? What is the timeline for meeting key objectives and milestones?
  • Sustainability
    • Is the product or service sustainable? How will the team ensure the sustainability of the company or organization?
  • The Team
    • Does the team have the necessary skills and expertise to execute its vision? Has the team demonstrated strong leadership?
  • Presentation
    • Was the presentation of the product or service of a high quality and professionalism? Could the presentation be made to potential investors and be received favorably?