State grant accelerates UC Berkeley’s innovation and entrepreneurship

The University of California, Berkeley has announced promising early results from a $2.2 million grant provided by the State of California. The grant has helped UC Berkeley, already a global hub for innovation, to expand its entrepreneurship activities with new facilities, courses and programs.

“The funding adds fuel to the already simmering passion and drive of the entrepreneurial spirit at Cal by funding programs and infrastructure,” says Carol Mimura, Assistant Vice Chancellor, IP & Industry Research Alliances. “Just as importantly, it has forged alliances by uniting people — in units across campus  — in a common cause to streamline entrepreneurship training, startup incubation and acceleration.”

The State of California provided the grant through Assembly Bill 2664, recognizing that the University of California has been instrumental in boosting the state economy by launching and growing some of California’s most successful industries, including aerospace, biotech, computers and digital media.  A recent analysis shows that 300 startups coming from Berkeley alone have raised a total of $4.7B bilion in funding.

In total, the State of California provided $22 million across the UC system, which has so far supported more than 500 new startups and existing companies, helped launch at least 47 new products and enabled companies to attract $3.7 million in additional investments.

At Berkeley, the grant has allowed the campus to engage 653 startup teams and 2,201 entrepreneurs. Supported entrepreneurship and innovation groups include the Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program, the Blum Center for Developing Economies, CITRIS Foundry, Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, LAUNCH, the NSF I-Corps Bay Area Node, the Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances, SkyDeck, Startup @ Berkeley Law, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology and affiliated programs.

These Berkeley entrepreneurship hubs have not only been able to expand their reach through courses and programs, but the state support has also enabled the groups to coordinate their efforts and create a more visible pipeline for students working to commercialize their ideas.

One initiative that shows this clearly is BEGIN, the Berkeley Gateway to Innovation (, a new web portal that helps entrepreneurs navigate the entrepreneurship ecosystem at Berkeley and identify appropriate entry points for their ideas and enterprises from among the suite of available programs.

“We are pleased to see tremendous progress on AB 2664, especially in the way that it has enabled Berkeley’s units that support different aspects of entrepreneurship to develop cohesive pipelines for new venture development,“ says Ikhlaq Sidhu, faculty director & founder at the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology.

Here are a few other highlights of new educational programming that has been enabled by the AB 2664 grant at Berkeley so far:

  • Berkeley hosted its first Inclusion in Entrepreneurship Summit, which brought together over 400 entrepreneurs from varied backgrounds to help attendees gain access to federal, state, and local resources. More than 25 federal agencies and 75 investors from the Bay Area participated in panel discussions and met with local entrepreneurs, resulting in more than 500 one-to-one meetings.
  • The CITRIS Foundry expanded its 500 sq. ft. of office space to a multi-use 3,500 sq. ft. facility to meet the demand for technology startup acceleration. The new CITRIS Foundry Entrepreneurship Hub will support up to 60 university entrepreneurs while they access specialized labs, training, mentorship, and world‐class research at UC Berkeley.
  • The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology hired a program manager, who was critical in launching new initiatives. Supported programs included the Management of Technology Innovation program, which facilitated collaborations with industry experts, the Transnational Security Collider, which connected undergraduate students and innovations to federal stakeholders, and the new Alternative Meat Lab, which is creating plant‐based meat alternatives.
  • Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program and the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology have created a new Lean Transfer course that aims to build technology startups with intellectual property from UC Berkeley.
  • Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program also expanded its Startup Disco to include a course for undergraduate students.  This hackathon-style class is offered by Haas to train students in starting new ventures.
  • SkyDeck has expanded its mentor program with over 100 SkyAdvisors, and enhanced acceleration programs to support their next cohort of startups, which will each receive $100,000 in funding from the newly launched Berkeley SkyDeck Fund.
  • In 2017 Berkeley Law’s New Business Practicum/Startup @Berkeley Law Program assisted 214 new Bay Area entrepreneurs who could not afford legal assistance, totaling 1,264 hours of free legal help, valued at approximately $474,000.

The UC system also leveraged AB 2664 to raise $11.1 million in matching funds from corporate and philanthropic sources, with more fundraising to come. As of November 2017, campuses had received over $5.5 million in matching funds, with another $5.6 million committed.

AB 2664, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion, was authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin and signed in fall 2016 by Gov. Jerry Brown. Through the bill, each of UC’s 10 campuses received $2.2 million in one-time funding in January 2017 to invest in infrastructure, incubators and entrepreneurship education programs.

In 2013, UC President Janet Napolitano launched the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative to leverage the scale and diversity of the UC system to build an even more vibrant entrepreneurial culture. For more information about innovation at UC, including the university’s new contest for alumni entrepreneurs, visit

To learn more about how the entire University of California has leveraged AB 2664 support, visit here.


Announcing BEGIN: Berkeley’s New Gateway to Innovation

The University of California, Berkeley has created its first ever virtual hub for innovation on campus, named Berkeley Begin – the Berkeley Gateway to Innovation. Now entrepreneurs can more easily connect with Berkeley’s robust network of innovation courses, incubators, accelerators, funding, and social networks.

The goal of Berkeley Begin is to unite Berkeley’s rich entrepreneurship resources under one umbrella website to support innovators in finding the resources they need to move their startups forward.

BEGIN – Berkeley Gateway to Innovation is a project of entrepreneurship and innovation groups at the University of California, Berkeley. Pictured here are representatives from partner groups including SkyDeck, IPIRA, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, the Blum Center for Developing Economies, Startup @ Berkeley Law, the CITRIS Foundry, and Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship program.


“Berkeley has a very active entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Dr. Ikhlaq Sidhu, founder of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology at UC Berkeley and professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research. “But if you are new to campus, it can be extremely difficult to understand what resources are available. By compiling all the resources on one website, Begin removes a major barrier to connecting with innovation at Berkeley.”

Berkeley is already one of the best places students and researchers interested in entrepreneurship and innovation could hope to land. According to Pitchbook, Berkeley undergraduate alumni created more companies than any other university between 2006 and 2016. Berkeley also ranks 2nd in total entrepreneur count and total venture capital raised for their startups.  

The BEGIN collaboration started when the State of California awarded Berkeley $2.2 million to enhance entrepreneurship and innovation on campus, recognizing the University of California’s unique role in helping to build some of California’s strongest industries, including aerospace, agriculture, biotechnology, computers and semiconductors, telecommunications, and digital media.

Caroline Winnett, SkyDeck Executive Director, said, “SkyDeck is proud member of the powerful community of UC Berkeley entrepreneurship. Begin is a terrific launching point for our startups and anyone who wants to connect with the resources and programs on campus that fuel our entrepreneurs.”

Begin is a collaboration between the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, the Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA), Startup @ Berkeley Law, the Blum Center for Developing Economies, SkyDeck, the CITRIS Foundry, LAUNCH, and the NSF I-Corps Bay Area Node, headquartered at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.