Student Startup with a Faster Test for Contaminants Wins Two Yale Competitions

A student startup venture developing a method for faster testing of water and other fluids for environmental contaminants has taken top awards in two Yale business plan competitions this spring.

Fluid-Screen is led by Monika Weber, a PhD student at the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science. Also on the team are Weber’s classmate Seyla Azoz and two Yale SOM students, Anthony Lynn ’14  and Nate Gorence ’14. Their venture won the $25,000 Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize from the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale and the $10,000 Yale Venture Challenge from the Yale Entrepreneurial Society. The project also received $1,500 as the winner of the 18th annual Entrepreneurship Foundation Connecticut New Venture Competition, a contest for student teams from Connecticut colleges and universities.

Employing patented chip technology developed by Weber, Fluid-Screen uses electric fields to isolate bacteria and other contaminants, yielding more accurate results and cutting the test time. Currently, it takes days for water samples to be tested at a lab, Lynn said. Fluid-Screen can deliver results in about 30 minutes, and the device is portable and user-friendly.

Anthony Lynn ’14 and Seyla Azoz of Fluid-Screen

The three students refined their project in Yale SOM’s Entrepreneurial Business Planning course. “It pushed the group to dig deeper into the business of the technology,” Lynn says. The class helped them determine the best markets for Fluid-Screen and create a business plan, Azoz adds. “There are so many applications for this device,” she says. “Consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, water testing—especially in developing countries—and the medical applications.”

Weber is now serving as CEO of Fluid-Screen, while Lynn is vice president for marketing, business development, and sales. Azoz is vice president of finance and operations, and Gorence is vice president for strategy. Fluid-Screen received more than $4 million in grant funding during the research phase, and the students are seeking an additional $400,000 to create a prototype of the device. The team is taking part in more business plan competitions this spring and summer.

“The potential benefit that this device could bring to the world is truly amazing,” Lynn said. “There is real social value. It’s the kind of project I wanted to be part of."