UC Berkeley’s new SkyDeck start-up accelerator lets young entrepreneurs skip the borrowed-garage phase while launching their innovative ventures. Instead, students, faculty and recent alumni with impressive ideas can get an early taste of the corner office. Besides taking in the views and honing their business chops in the top floor of the former PowerBar building in downtown Berkeley, tomorrow’s executives also receive mentoring from business, industry and finance leaders from the Bay Area and beyond.
Even in its infancy the enterprise incubator is proving successful. Industrial engineering and operations research professor Ken Goldberg and a group of his graduate students co-founded Hybrid Wisdom Labs last fall. Now based at SkyDeck, the start-up uses their patented technology—called a collaborative-discovery engine—to help companies or organizations analyze ideas and input from thousands of users, employees or customers. The feedback is arranged graphically, in visual clusters, to organize information and identify priorities rapidly.