Members of the OPTIX team diagram their idea — a startup to help the elderly learn new technology skills — at the Sutardja Center's weeklong bootcamp. (Photo by Christopher Vinan / SCET)

UC Berkeley awarded $2.2 million to strengthen campus entrepreneurship and innovation

The University of California, Berkeley has been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the State of California to help leading centers and programs accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship on campus.

The funds, originating from Assembly Bill 2664 and administered through UC’s Office of the President, will help six UC Berkeley entities create a coordinated pipeline of activities and programs to educate more students, provide mentorship for women and underrepresented populations, expand seed funding for student startups, facilitate team formation and accelerate new ventures.

“This united innovation ecosystem on campus will increase the overall capacity of Berkeley's entrepreneurial output and make it easier for Berkeley’s entrepreneurs, mentors, researchers and program managers to connect with each other to build the next great startup,” said Ikhlaq Sidhu, chief scientist and founding director of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology. Sidhu, also a professor of industrial engineering & operations research, is the lead author of Berkeley's proposal and heads the implementation of the grant.

“A remarkable group of programs to foster all aspects of entrepreneurship emerged organically from Berkeley in the last decade,” said UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for research, Paul Alivisatos. “This new funding from the State of California will help these groups step up to a new level, helping our faculty and students fulfill this aspiration to change the world through discovery-based entrepreneurship.”

Grant partners include:

Berkeley’s coordinated network for entrepreneurship and innovation will also include such partners as Berkeley Law and the Berkeley Startup Network. A special effort will be made to increase participation of women and underrepresented populations in incubators, accelerators and startups.

“This grant funding will perpetuate the cycle of discovery, development, translation and reinvestment into the basic research enterprise at one of the greatest research universities in the world,” said Carol Mimura, assistant vice chancellor for intellectual property and industry research alliances. “Startups from Berkeley have created huge economic impacts on the local and state economies. We look forward to reporting back to the state legislature on the multiplier effect created by these new funds.”

In all, the state awarded $22 million to the 10 campuses of the University of California through AB 2664. The investment recognizes UC’s role in building California's strongest industries, from aerospace, biotechnology and information technology to digital media.