BERKELEY, Calif. -- University of California, Berkeley’s SkyDeck announces that it is now accepting applications to the Spring 2018 cohort of its SkyDeck accelerator program. Each startup accepted will receive up to $100,000 in funding from leading Venture Capital investors around the world, as well as access to UC Berkeley's world-class labs, and mentorship from Berkeley alumni and its faculty network. Applications are open from to all affiliates of UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and UCSF, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, as well as entrepreneurs from around the world under the Global Founder Program. SkyDeck is guided by a highly qualified Board of Directors and has high-calibre mentors including Marc Tarpenning, Co-Founder and former VP of Engineering at Tesla; Jack McCauley, Founder of Oculus Rift and Guitar Hero; and Rebecca Lynn, Founder and General Partner at Canvas Ventures.
The Berkeley SkyDeck Fund will be managed by Silicon Valley hedge fund manager and UC Berkeley ’98 graduate Chon Tang. Tang will use the experience he’s garnered in investing in seed-stage companies during the past 12 years to help grow the next generation of startups.
SkyDeck Executive Director Caroline Winnett says “UC Berkeley is where people come to make the scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs that will transform our world. The addition of capital from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund will help our startups reach their full potential in one of the most exciting markets on the planet.”
“There is enormous potential in SkyDeck startups,” says Mr. Tang, Berkeley SkyDeck Fund’s Managing Partner. “Our founders have talent, determination, brilliance, and limitless potential. Now with the added opportunity to secure capital, the pathway to success in Silicon Valley is clearer than ever.”
130 UC Berkeley startups have graduated from SkyDeck as of today, including Building Robotics, which raised a $12M Series B round; Ads Native, which raised an $8M Series A round; and Zephyrus Biosciences, which was acquired for $13M in 2016.
The funding will come from some of the largest venture capital names in Silicon Valley and worldwide, including Sequoia Capital, Canvas Ventures, IronFire Ventures, and Photon VC. The funds are looking to tap into the Berkeley entrepreneurial community, and are partnering with SkyDeck to nurture what they hope will become their next big portfolio companies.
Startups will also receive the benefits of being connected to the world’s leading public university, its cutting-edge research programs, and its diverse talent pool. UC Berkeley currently has more PhDs than any other university, and it is number two for graduates recruited by Apple, Facebook and Google. SkyDeck was recently ranked a top ‘global gold tier’ accelerator by the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project.
Commenting on the relationship between faculty and the accelerator, UC Berkeley Interim Vice Chancellor for Research G. Steven Martin explains: "SkyDeck and the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund provide support and capital for UC Berkeley startups at the frontiers of science and technology, and this public-private partnership will share its returns with the university. UC Berkeley is fully supportive of SkyDeck and its mission to help entrepreneurs translate Berkeley's transformational research into applications that will change the world."
A hub for talented entrepreneurs worldwide
SkyDeck is open to all entrepreneurs around the world. SkyDeck and the UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology have launched the Global Founder Program (GFP) to enable research in entrepreneurship. The GFP is a two-year academic research program for foreign national founders from around the world to study and practice entrepreneurship in an academic program that gives them the opportunity to directly interact with the Silicon Valley ecosystem.
Explaining the rationale behind the program, Ms. Winnett explains: “The success of the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem is dependent on the best people from around the world, executing on the best ideas from around the world. UC Berkeley’s Global Founder Program could become the nexus for global entrepreneurship in the 21st century.”
Whilst their startups participate in the SkyDeck program, individual founders will participate in conducting research and learning from top academics in the field of entrepreneurship through Berkeley’s Sutardja Center.
The program has the full support of faculty members at UCB. "We are excited to offer this resident academic program that will draw from the world's most applied and potentially impactful ideas, allowing them to be translated beyond publication into real life," said Ikhlaq Sidhu, founding director of the UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology and professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research.
Located on top of the tallest building in Downtown Berkeley, SkyDeck is UC Berkeley’s premier startup accelerator. Formed as a partnership between the Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, SkyDeck combines the consulting know-how of traditional accelerators with the vast resources of its research university.