Berkeley SkyDeck &
Jacobs Institute Join
Forces to Accelerate
Hardware and Design

At Berkeley SkyDeck, we are constantly on the lookout for new ways to give startups in our accelerator the greatest chance to succeed — whether that’s by forming campus partnerships with the Haas Startup Squad or the Berkeley M.E.T. to ensure that our startups get matched with the best talent on campus or by expanding the number of resource partner opportunities we offer our startups. Today, we’re proud to announce that our ecosystem of resources is expanding thanks to a new partnership with the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, UC Berkeley’s state-of-the-art interdisciplinary hub for learning and making at the intersection of design and technology. 


This access will take the form of Entrepreneur Maker Passes to the Jacobs Makerspace for hardware startups accepted to our accelerator. Passholders can use all of the Makerspace’s equipment, such as 3D printers,, electronics and textile labs – both wood and metal shops- industrial robots, 3D scanners, and much more. (See a full list here.) What’s more, an Entrepreneur Maker Pass also enables access to Jacobs’ in-house design specialists, who can provide guidance from initial design all the way through fabrication; free workshops and training sessions; and the Material Store, which offers low-cost base materials. There will be opportunities for the SkyDeck and Jacobs Institute communities to engage on a personal level as well, through workshops, career conversations, and presentations. 


These resources can potentially save a startup tens of thousands of dollars in the prototyping process — in terms of both materials and time spent. The Institute’s equipment is cutting edge and easily accessible to cohort companies, and its design advisors can provide assistance on new iterations of a hardware prototype. This partnership allows SkyDeck to broaden its purview and better serve startups with a focus on hardware. 


Here’s an example of the kind of savings Jacobs Institute equipment enables from UC Berkeley alum Alex James Eyeman:  “After working with the team at the Jacobs Institute I was able to reduce the costs for a mold down from $40,000 to under $7,000 and the price per unit from $6 to $0.69. If I had not known what I learned at Jacobs, my small business could have never gotten started.”


The Institute has also supported the SpaceCAL project. “Adapting a research technology for a harsh and complex field takes a lot of prototyping and tests and requires a hands-on understanding of design for manufacturing. The SpaceCAL project was created to test a new type of 3D printing in space environments, and working with JIDI allowed us to be hands-on with our designs and quickly learn from our mistakes to create the perfect experiment,” said Taylor James Waddell, SpaceCAL Suborbital Project Principal Investigator; PhD, Mechanical Engineering.


As programs of UC Berkeley, SkyDeck and the Jacobs Institute share a focus not just on technological innovation, but on societal impact. Having a high-quality prototype like the ones the Institute can help produce is often essential for a hardware startup to secure the kind of funding it needs to make those impacts. 


We have long believed that no other university can beat UC Berkeley in terms of depth and breadth of resources for entrepreneurs, proven by our status as the top university in the world for venture-funded startups. We’re looking forward to seeing how cohort companies, starting with this spring’s batch, leverage the Jacobs Institute’s resources to move faster than before. When Berkeley’s capabilities and resources come together to support entrepreneurs in partnerships like these, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.