School:University of California Berkeley

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Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship

The University of California, Berkeley is leading the forefront in student innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) in higher education. Students have the options to pursue I&E classes through the Saturdja Center, or develop their own ventures with the support of The House, Skydeck and various startup competitions led by the Haas School of Business. These various resources have encouraged collaboration between cross-disciplines from students and faculty.

Since 2005, the Saturdja Center for Entrepreneurship & Tech (SCET) has pioneered the the practice of technology-focused innovation and entrepreneurship. Every year, students from diverse backgrounds participate in application-based classes offered by the SCET. These classes first start with awareness through the Newton Lecture Series and the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship Bootcamp (BMOE). Top executives from small startups to big companies share their entrepreneurial journey in the Lecture Series, and the BMOE provides students the opportunity to pitch and create their own in startup in one-week! That awarness is then chanelled to theory and practice through semester collider projects, challenges labs, & skills development courses. The goal of the SCET is to guide students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset to launch their startup in or after college. 

If a student decides to launch their startup while in college, they can reach out to The House and Skydeck for initial seed funding. The House also provides a workspace for aspiring entrepreneurs to collaborate and innovate together. Similar to The House, Skydeck is UC Berkeley's primary startup accelerator. Skydeck was founded on a partnership between the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the College of Engineering and the Haas School of Business, with the goal of bringing students from multidisciplinary backgrounds transform their discoveries into startup ventures. 

UC Berkeley is ranked as the "#2 university worldwide for producing venture-backed entrepreneurs" (Skydeck). This is possible because of the campus's commitment to bringing diverse students together in the classroom and spaces of collaboration, creating their own curriculum for entrepreneurship & tech through the Saturdja Center, and funding student ideas into scaleable businesses. 

Encouraging Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Faculty innovation and entrepreneurship is seen both inside and outside the classroom. The faculty in the College of Letters & Science (L&S) collaborated with the Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program to guide students to turn their ideas into scaleable ventures. This is seen through interactive courses like the L&S 5 and L&S 105, where entrepreneurs share their experiences on what it means to be an "entrepreneur". By connecting humanities with business, students and faculty from non-traditional entrepreneurial backgrounds are gaining the opportunity to understand what it means to start a venture.

Outside of the classroom, the campus partners with various industries to ideate, inspire and invent new forms of technologies. For example, Berkeley launched RISElab (Real-time Intelligence with Secure Execution), sponsored by IBM, Intel, GE Digital, and more, to bring together faculty and students to explore and innovate Big Data analytics. The Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) fosters collaboration between the computer science, statistics and applied math departments between faculty and students to lead the data science revolution. Both RISElab and BIDS are just two of the many industry alliance programs that connect faculty, students and companies to cultivate faculty innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Actively supporting the university technology transfer function

Berkeley is a hub of entrepreneur and innovator opportunities for its students. Numerous resources connect aspiring students to professors, companies, and investors in the area. These resources include 'the House', AMPLab, Berkeley IP and Technology Transfer, Signature Innovation Fellow, Berkeley Angel Network, SkyDeck, Citirus Foundry, and many more. All these programs are connected with faculties in specific schools like SkyDeck is with the Haas School of Business. They are connected to huge companies like AMPLab is with companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, etc. They are also connected with everything ranging from angel investors, venture capitalist, professors, and startups. Berkeley has plenty of resources available to its students. Citirus Foundry for example, is an accelerator for founders building transformative technology companies. They invest and help found tech startups and startup idea from a select group of University of California students. 

Facilitating university-industry collaboration

University research and innovation is the pinnacle of change and development that is constantly occuring on campus. These developments are doing more than just reaching the sphere of of the university itself: it connects students and professors with businesses and industries outside of campus, opening up the sphere of change and opportunities to a wider network of people. Research and innovation are currently a huge benefit for businesses and industries all throughout the nations. As technology expands and new research emerges, universities are forced to keep up with current trends and therefore, are constantly searching for opportunities in which they are able to connect new emerging concepts and ideas with their own research as well as student education. In order to accomplish this, universities are starting to open up new spaces for students as well as new startups and are trying to make their faculty more reachable and accessible. They also have implemented different programs in order to partner with students and different companies in order to offer students internships and other opportunities to expand their learning while staying in touch with university research.

The University of California, Berkeley is a prime example of a university that has been facilitating university-industry collaboration through their programs and facilities made available to students. The university has created a multitude of spaces for students and other aspiring startups to utilize including technology, industrial park, manufacturing, and wet lab space. One such example of a program on campus is the QB3 incubator network, which offers up 2 incubator spaces for biotech startup companies looking to jumpstart their new technologies by laying down the groundwork for their upcoming companies. The university also has opportunities for students to connect with alumni and faculty in order to promote entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the campus. One example of this the Berkeley Angel network, which connects students with alumni and former faculty in order to acquire angel investors for student startup ideas. This is an incredible way to create a community of people aspiring to be entrepreneurs in their communities as well as creating a network for them to assist them in their journey. Lastly, the university also offers many mentoring, advisory or business networks for their students to create a supportive environment that fosters the growth of their students. One program is VC connect which involves students, network entrepreneurs, and the VC/angel investor community. This VC connect program connects student innovations with Bay Area VCs in order to establish and form connections between students and investor communities. Another such community that provides a business network on campus is Computer Science Graduate Entrepreneurs. This group is focused on creating a space for graduate students, alumni, and faculty of the Computer Science department to connect with one another and share ideas and common interests and therefore work together towards a common goal. The goal of this group is to create influential startups and companies with the aid of fellow graduates. They accomplish this by communication of goals, transferring of information about ideas, experiences, and connections with each new generation of people that are accepted into this group. Lastly, another program that provides advisory opportunities for students is the Haas Venture Fellows. This group aims to connect students with a wide alumni network within the Haas school of business that has contacts in the entrepreneurial world that would help students establish themselves after graduating from the university. It also provides an opportunity for students to learn hands-on what being a Venture Capitalist entitles and the responsibilities that come with it. It also gives VCs a way to keep in touch with the innovation and new ideas that are constantly being put-forth by the creative students that come from the university.

Because the University is hands-on with student learning in innovation and research by creating multiple programs for students, faculty, and alumni, we have concluded that it does its part to facilitate university and industry innovation.

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts

Various programs on campus are participating in regional and local economic development efforts to grow the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation on campus. The Berkeley Angel Network brings together angel investors, UC Berkeley faculty and alumni to help scale startups started by students. These students are connected to a huge network of mentors to guide them in their business model canvas, team synergy and execution of their strategies. Similar to the Berkeley Angel Network, there are numerous accelerators on campus that transform startups into fundable businesses. Launch brings in UC Berkeley faculty and serial-entrepreneur mentors to connect student entrepreneurs to working professionals, develop their MVPs, and gain initial funding. If students are looking for biotech accelerators, the QB3-CLSA Accelerator helps their members with research and commercializing their products. These Accelerator programs are opportunities for students to gain the support and space to scale their startups.

Outside of network and mentorship, Berkeley provides numerous opportunities for seed funding including the Berkeley-Haas Dean's Startup Seed Fund and the House fund. The House Fund was started by a Berkeley student because he realized that there are limited programs on campus that invest in student discoveries. Not only do they provide initial funding, but they also provide a collaborative environment for student-entrepreneurs to work with their teams. From networking to seed funding, UC Berkeley is transforming the way students develop their startups into successful ventures. 

Related Links

University of California, Berkeley Student Priorities

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Fall 2013

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