Students Develop Innovative Ideas for AI app in SCET AR Startup Product Design Challenge

Tommaso Di Bartolo posing with AR challenge participants

The SCET Student Innovation Fellows’ AR Startup Product Design Challenge was a resounding success!

The final four teams came together at our pitch event at the SCET and presented their thorough, innovative ideas about additions to the Phygtl app to none other than Phygtl CEO Tommaso Di Bartolo and AR Expert Kathy Wang

Check out “The Role of Augmented Reality in Behavioral Transformation,” published by Judge Tommaso Di Bartolo, for more insights from the event!

The teams’ ideas ranged from using the Phygtl App at poker tournaments to adding a feature similar to Disney’s virtual pin trading. The winning team, composed of freshmen Zander Vaux, Arissa Zheng, and Deena Sun, walked home with Apple AirTags and UberEats Gift Cards!

In addition, the final four teams all received 6 months of unlimited AI-powered learning tools and personalized tutoring from our event sponsor, Whiteboard AI. Whiteboard AI empowers every student with their own personal AI tutor—instantly summarize and chat with videos, create notes and flashcards from any document, and ask your AI tutor anything.

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SCET Director Highlights Value of international Education and Entrepreneurial Skills at CACIE in Beijing

David Law and Susan Giesecke at CACIE in Beijing

David Law, SCET’s Director of Global Academic Programs, attended the China Annual Conference for International Education (CACIE) in Beijing, China. David was hosted by the Study Abroad Foundation (SAF) and served as a panelist at SAF’s “Forum on Enhancing Institutional Disciplinary Strengths Through International Student Mobility”.

David introduced SCET and the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship (BMOE) in the context of international student exchange. SCET’s Startup Semester and Summer Venture Lab programs, leveraging BMOE, provide students a unique opportunity to engage with multidisciplinary teams in a highly experiential learning environment. Visiting international students have the opportunity to work alongside Berkeley degree-seeking students from over 50 majors. This integration also enhances the learning experience for Cal students by building intercultural competencies and global perspectives.

The forum also addressed some of the challenges faced by international visitors and university hosts. Top of mind for most institutions and students is global competitiveness in the job market.

David had the opportunity to share Berkeley’s recognition that entrepreneurial skills are universally valuable in today’s employment market and how SCET is preparing students not only as startup founders but also as innovative leaders at established companies, family businesses or government agencies.

A big thank you to Carol Carmody, Sr. Associate Vice President at SAF, and to Tracey Tao, Asst Vice President, SAF China for organizing the forum. SCET recognizes the value of SAF services and looks forward to continued collaboration on student abroad opportunities.

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AWSEM 2023

Are you a woman pursuing an undergraduate degree in Science and Engineering?

AWSEM is a mentorship program that seeks to connect undergraduate women pursuing careers in Engineering and Technology with mentors in Apple Engineering.

Come join us virtually from Dec 4th 2023 – May 20th 2024.

Connect with Apple Hardware, Software, and Manufacturing Engineers
Gain career information, and networking experience
Attend technical & personal development workshops
Participate in one-to-one mentorship with your own personal mentor

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Intro to Lean Startup: NSF I-Corps Method 

Do you have a startup idea? Are you looking for a proven method to validate your idea? 

Intro to Lean Startup: NSF I-Corps Method is a free remote one-week course based on Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad. The three evening sessions teach you to identify your top customer segment and value propositions to de-risk your idea and accelerate finding product market fit.

Eligible teams that complete either course with instructor endorsement might also qualify for the National NSF I-Corps program, which includes a $50,000 National Science Foundation customer discovery grant. Teams that complete the national program have a much higher funding rate, including SBIR grants and investment, and alumni include Inkspace Imaging (SkyDeck/Bakar Fellow), Correlia Biosystems (CITRIS Foundry/Y Combinator), and Intropic Materials (Activate Fellow).

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MIT Climate & Energy Prize (CEP) 2024

The MIT CEP is a distinguished platform recognizing and nurturing student-led startups devoted to climate-positive and energy-efficient solutions. After 15 years of fostering 260+ successful companies and distributing over $3.3 Million in cash prizes, the MIT CEP has been a catalyst for ventures that have subsequently secured over $1.7 Billion in funding. This year’s MIT CEP will run from Nov 2023 to Apr 2024. 

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2024 EnergyTech University PrizeBusiness Plan Competition

Collegiate students and faculty interested in energy and entrepreneurship are invited to participate in the EnergyTech University Prize (EnergyTech UP) 2024! This is a $400,000 collegiate competition challenging student teams to develop and present a business plan that leverages National Laboratory-developed or other emerging energy technologies developed by students, faculty, or industry.

New to the 2024 competition is a track challenging faculty to develop and implement educational activities to engage more students in energy technology commercialization and entrepreneurship topics while competing for $100,000.

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“AI is the New Electricity”: Insights from Dr. Andrew Ng

AI luminary Andrew Ng recently shared his insights on the future of AI at a Berkeley event titled “How AI Will Change the World (for Good)” hosted by The House Fund with support from the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET). Ng, one of the world’s most respected AI experts, emphasized the transformative potential of AI, highlighting its vast opportunities for the audience of nearly 300 Berkeley student entrepreneurs.

SCET partnered with the House Fund to host an event with AI visionary Dr. Andrew Ng who talked about opportunities in AI with a full house of Berkeley students

Two Tools Ushering in AI’s Golden Age

Dr. Ng highlighted that the modern AI era stands firmly on the shoulders of two indispensable tools: supervised learning and generative AI.

Supervised learning’s prowess lies in its ability to ‘label.’ This tool transcends domains: from predicting ad clicks—vital for giants like Google—to advanced medical diagnostics and even spam detection. Its widespread applicability has entrenched supervised learning as today’s AI workhorse.

On the other hand, generative AI—though nascent and still relatively small compared to the current supervised learning—holds untapped potential. As Dr. Ng envisions it, while supervised learning may double its influence in the coming three years, generative AI’s impact could grow much more quickly.

Unleashing AI’s Vast Potential: The Customization Challenge

For a moment, visualize all possible AI projects, ranked by their potential value. On one end, you have gargantuan projects like online advertising that cater to billions and rake in massive revenues. But here’s the catch: such projects require significant resources. Typically, they’ve been the realm of tech titans, demanding armies of engineers to execute.

Dr. Ng introduced the audience to a fascinating paradigm shift. Moving away from these behemoths, he spotlighted smaller projects—each potentially worth about $5 million. Examples included ensuring even cheese distribution on pizzas or optimizing wheat harvests with AI cameras. Such projects, once deemed financially unviable due to resource constraints, now lie within reach.

Most industries, Dr. Ng pointed out, are riddled with these $5 million opportunities. But there’s been a gap: the absence of an efficient way to execute them. Enter low-code platforms. These tools empower even smaller teams to customize AI solutions tailored to specific needs, leveraging their unique data. The rise of such tools signals a promising democratization of AI, allowing its benefits to permeate industries beyond just tech.

Navigating the AI Stack: A Glimpse into Opportunities

Dr. Ng provided a comprehensive overview of the AI stack and the myriad opportunities it offers:

  • Hardware Layer: Though pivotal, this realm is capital-intensive, with only a few players dominating. The barriers to entry are high, and therefore, it might not be the most accessible avenue for new entrants.
  • Cloud Infrastructure: Similar to hardware, this layer is equally capital-intensive and concentrated. New entrants might find it challenging to break into this space, despite its undeniable potential.
  • Developer Tooling Layer: This layer is a veritable battleground, brimming with competition. Startups might find success here, but only with a significant technological edge. Established entities benefit from distribution advantages, but startups need that technological edge to carve a niche.
  • Application Layer: Surprisingly, this layer, which should technically be thriving given its foundational role in supporting the infrastructural and tooling layers, appears to be rife with opportunity and relatively less competition. Dr. Ng cited an intriguing example of applying AI in the realm of romantic relationship coaching—a collaboration between AI experts and the former CEO of Tinder, resulting in a unique relationship mentorship platform. This underscores the vast potential and diversity of AI applications awaiting exploration.

Crafting a Startup: The Ng Formula

Dr. Ng unveiled his systematic methodology for forming new startups:

  • Idea Validation: Any idea brought to the table undergoes rigorous scrutiny. Through a month-long process, the feasibility—both market and technical—is ascertained. This isn’t about broad, nebulous domains like “AI in financial services,” but specific, actionable concepts, which can be effectively validated or dismissed.
  • Founder Recruitment: Once the idea survives the initial validation, the search for a Founder-in-Residence or CEO begins. This individual, ideally with a blend of industry knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit, helps shape the venture further.
  • Prototype & Feedback: A three-month phase follows where the core idea transforms into a technical prototype. This isn’t just about technology—it’s also about understanding market needs, gathering feedback, and refining the concept.
  • Pre-Seed Growth: If the prototype shows promise, it moves into a year-long phase of refinement. Here, executive teams are formed, MVPs built, and the first set of customers are onboarded.
  • Transition to Seed/Scale Phase: Once the MVP garners traction, it positions the startup to secure the next round of funding.

Dr. Ng’s emphasis was clear: While AI presents myriad opportunities across sectors, what’s essential is the marrying of AI expertise with domain-specific knowledge. One needs a concrete idea, not just a general domain, to make a meaningful impact.

Championing Ethical AI: Responsibility Over Revenue

Dr. Ng stressed that with the immense potential of AI comes a profound responsibility. AI’s capabilities are growing exponentially, but it’s vital to ensure these tools serve humanity positively.

At AI Fund, this commitment to ethics isn’t just a tagline—it’s a deeply entrenched philosophy. Every project undergoes ethical evaluation, and ventures that may harm societal values, irrespective of their commercial potential, are promptly discontinued. In Dr. Ng’s words, they “only work on projects that move humanity forward.” Such a stance ensures that as the AI community continues to evolve and make strides, it does so with the betterment of society at its core.

Berkeley’s Legacy in Nurturing AI Visionaries

Highlighting Berkeley’s monumental role in molding entrepreneurs, Jeremy Fiance recounted the transformative experience SCET offers to its students. Alumni, such as the founder of DoorDash, are a testament to SCET’s far-reaching influence in the entrepreneurial world.

“Many great [Berkeley] alumni entrepreneurs have taken [SCET] classes to learn about entrepreneurship and went on to start huge impactful companies in the world, so if I were you if if I was a student in this room after this I’d go sign up for one of these classes as fast as humanly possible,” said Fiance about the impact he has seen with students taking SCET courses.

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Neurotech Collider Lab Collaborates with Brain Capital Alliance to Promote Global Brain Health

The Neurotech Collider Lab, housed at UC Berkeley’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET) and Bakar Bioenginuity Hub (BBH) is collaborating with the Brain Capital Alliance (BCA), a global effort to promote brain health and well-being, to accelerate the development and commercialization of neurotechnology solutions.

The collaboration was highlighted at the recent 77th United Nations General Assembly, where Neurotech Collider Lab Director Gail Gannon joined Dr. Harris Eyre, a leading figure in the brain capital movement and Lead of the BCA, to discuss the importance of brain capital for economic growth, innovation, and well-being.

“The brain capital framework is based on the assumption that our brains are our greatest asset and provides an approach to define brain issues, quantify them, and track them,” said Dr. Eyre. “This perspective underscores the necessity to integrate brain capital considerations across society and public and private sectors.”

The Neurotech Collider Lab is well-positioned to play a key role in this global endeavor. The lab brings together researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors to work on neurotechnology solutions that have the potential to improve brain health and performance.

“We are excited to collaborate with the Brain Capital Alliance to advance this important work,” said Gannon. “By combining our expertise and resources, we can accelerate the development and commercialization of neurotechnology solutions that can make a positive impact on the world. We wish to catalyze Californian leadership in this area .” 

The collaboration between the Neurotech Collider Lab and the Brain Capital Alliance is a testament to the growing recognition of the importance of brain health for individuals, societies, and economies. By working together, the two organizations can help to create a future where brain capital is central to human well-being.

Read more about the UNGA event at the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association.

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Berkeley and SCET Leaders Comment on Artificial Intelligence during Biden Bay Area Visit

President Joe Biden recently convened with top experts in San Francisco to discuss the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI). Notably, several luminaries from UC Berkeley participated, underscoring the university’s significant role in the AI discourse.

Shomit Ghose, SCET Faculty and Industry Fellow
Shomit Ghose, SCET Faculty and Industry Fellow

Shomit Ghose, an industry fellow at the UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, highlighted the necessity of a nuanced understanding of AI for national strategy formulation. Ghose remarked, “An incomplete understanding of what generative AI truly is will yield both an incomplete national strategy and incomplete legislation.” He further emphasized the potential benefits of making AI infrastructure broadly accessible, drawing parallels to past governmental roles in developing physical infrastructure.

Chon Tang, a venture capitalist and founding partner with UC Berkeley’s startup accelerator SkyDeck, voiced appreciation for AI’s potential, especially in areas like medicine. He also expressed concerns over job losses to automation and intellectual property challenges in the AI sector.

Berkeley’s contributions to these discussions reaffirm its role as a nexus of academic research and policy guidance in the AI arena.

For a deeper dive into Biden’s meeting and expert perspectives, click here to access the full Mercury News article.

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