Berkeley SkyDeck is
UC Berkeley’s global hub
for entrepreneurship.

We support startups founded by UC Berkeley students, alumni, and faculty who are seeking to bring their scientific and technical discoveries to market, and commercialize groundbreaking UC Berkeley research. SkyDeck also welcomes startups founded by affiliates of any of the ten University of California campuses, and startups who are located outside the US seeking to connect with students and faculty at UC Berkeley.

Many SkyDeck programs support education for UC Berkeley students through internships, professional development, and opportunities for students to learn about startup creation and launch. SkyDeck aims to further the university’s scientific research and educational purposes by helping to ensure that the university’s research is made available to the public at large through commercialization.

Batch 13 Application Timeline

Applications Open Aug 1st, 2021 – Sept 5th, 2021

Interviews Sept 20th, 2021 – Oct 15th, 2021

Orientation Nov 1st, 2021

Start & End Dates Nov 1st, 2021 – Apr 8th, 2022

Cohort Demo Day Apr 6th, 2022

What makes our accelerator special?

Three programs for the stage of your startup

SkyDeck Accelerator Program

Roughly twenty Cohort startups are selected every six months to receive a $105,000 investment from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund.

Cohort startups are selected if they’re almost ready to raise their first significant round of institutional funding from top Silicon Valley VCs; most successful applicants have already raised angel funding, or previous venture capital investments from VCs outside of the United States.

Companies who have graduated from the SkyDeck program have a much higher probability of receiving institutional funding than the industry average.

Cohort startups are paired with Key Advisors, go through the six-month BAM Program, attend weekly required events, and receive guided access to the SkyDeck community. Startups present at SkyDeck’s 600+ attendee Demo Day.

SkyDeck works hand-in-hand to help Cohort companies with:

  • Product Strategy: defining/refining the product design and go-to-market for a capital-efficient growth strategy with meaningful competitive moats
  • Team-building: identifying and recommending key candidates for advisory boards and early hires
  • Customer Introductions: using the UC Berkeley alumni network, SkyDeck can make introductions to influencers and key buyers in just about any industry in Silicon Valley

Specialized Tracks

BAM

FAQs

Berkeley SkyDeckFund – Learn more at SkyDeck.vc

Innovation Partners Program

SkyDeck’s Innovation Partner Program (IPP) provides partners with an opportunity to send startups to be accelerated for a three-month period at SkyDeck. SkyDeck welcomes IPP startups from various industries and across different funding stages.

Global Innovation Partners (GIP) are international government organizations and academic institutions that are looking to develop a virtual bridge between Silicon Valley resources, the University of California at Berkeley, and their own region to help develop their innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem by offering global programing to local startups.

University Innovation Partners (UIP) are higher-education academic institutions from North America that seek to expand their innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem and supplement their curriculum. The program connects institutions with Silicon Valley resources including lifetime access to a vast network of advisors, mentors, investors, and corporate partners, through a robust program of workshops and networking events.

Corporate Innovation Partners (CIP) are corporations from around the world that are interested in making strategic investments into accelerating internal projects, portfolio startups, or sourcing and accelerating new startups that address specific technology needs and develop new opportunities. This program allows corporations to implement a targeted approach to solving innovation challenges and identifying new technological opportunities.

SkyDeck provides IPP startups with access to relevant workshops, networking events, office hours with industry experts, and a showcase event with 100+ attendees, among which include startup investors, advisors, and mentors. By the time

IPP startups finish the program they are significantly more prepared to launch their startup in the US or internationally, and have a network to do so.SkyDeck staff work with the startups to facilitate custom programming tailored towards their goals.

Pad-13

THE SKYDECK INCUBATOR

Pad-13 startups are typically companies that are too early stage for the cohort program, or are founded by students or faculty.

They are invited to work in the open work areas and to attend some workshops and events at SkyDeck, depending on availability.

Pad-13 startups have access to a portion of our advisors as well as the in-kind resources offered by our resource partners. Graduates of the Cohort program are invited to Pad-13 for six-months post-graduation.

The Berkeley SkyDeck Fund may elect to participate in qualifying seed rounds raised by Pad-13 teams.

Pad-13 applicants are required to have at least one founder connection to one of the ten University of California campuses, such as Alumni, Professor, Student, Grad Student, or Researcher.

FAQs

For
UC Berkeley Students

Berkeley SkyDeck encourages UC Berkeley students to explore startup opportunities and join our community. The are many ways for students to engage at SkyDeck.

 

Apply to SkyDeck’s Pad-13 program. The Pad-13 program is open to all student founded startups. You can apply if you are simply working on an idea and your startup doesn’t even have a name yet! Apply during the open application periods, or send an email to SkyDeck any time of year and we will let you know if there is room in our student program. To find out more about campus resources, visit our website for entrepreneurs, Berkeley Begin. Go Bears!

For
UC Berkeley Faculty

If you are a faculty founder and would like to join the SkyDeck program, please email the SkyDeck Executive Director.

Many faculty founded startups have participated in the SkyDeck program, in both the funded Cohort program and the Pad-13 program. Some of our faculty founded startups:

Zephyrus Biosciences – Professor Amy Herr, Bioengineering

Ambidextrous Labs – Professor Ken Goldberg, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

Inkspace Imaging – Professor Ana Arias and Professor Michael Lustig, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

Iota Biosciences – Professor Michel Maharbiz and Professor Jose Carmena, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences

FACULTY ADVISORS

SkyDeck’s Faculty Advisors is group of faculty who are leading researchers in their fields and who are also startup founders and startup advisors. These faculty help guide SkyDeck in their areas of expertise, and can provide unique guidance to startup founders in scientific and technical fields.

CONNECTING TO THE SKYDECK NETWORK

SkyDeck hosts many events and programs that are relevant to faculty including:

  • Introductions to Industry Partners interested in sponsoring research on campus
  • Roundtables hosted by our Industry Partners
  • Events for faculty on startup advising
  • Guidance on lab use and conflict of interest management

“Berkeley SkyDeck gave us the network and support we needed to succeed in the early stage of our company. They helped us hire top talent, identify go to market strategies, and raise our seed round.”

– Davit Baghdasaryan, Co-Founder & CEO of Krisp

Success Stories

USA

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Lime

USA

Long before they were one of Silicon Valley’s fastest growing startups, Lime was a member of SkyDeck’s Pad-13 program in 2017. Lime participated in SkyDeck’s community and met numerous partners and investors during their time in Berkeley.

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Symbio

USA

Symbio Robotics is an industry leader in Industrial Automation Systems through the combination of novel robotics and artificial intelligence technologies. Symbio met their first principal investor, Andressen Horowitz, through SkyDeck’s extensive investor network.

Europe

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Krisp

ARMENIA

Founded by a former Twilio engineer, Krisp was a member of SkyDeck’s 2018 Spring Cohort. During the program, they connected with numerous enterprise customers, hired an experienced COO to help run US operations, and raised $8M from Sierra Ventures and other venture firms that SkyDeck connected them to.

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MindsDB

ENGLAND

MindsDB has a simple mission: make data science easy for enterprises. Through their many interactions with SkyDeck’s numerous advisors, they learned how to grow the vision and scope of their business and raised $5M from OpenOcean and others after participating in SkyDeck’s program.

Latin America

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Skyloom

ARGENTINA

After meeting Berkeley SkyDeck Fund partner Chon Tang at a pitch event, SkyLoom, a satellite communications company, was accepted into SkyDeck. While part of our program, they grew their relationships with NASA and other government agencies and hired multiple advisors/employees through SkyDeck’s vast network. They have gone on to raise $4M from investors such as Draper Magnus and Starlight.

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Kiwi

COLOMBIA

Kiwi Campus, a robot delivery company, knew that Silicon Valley was the place to build & launch their startup. They utilized Berkeley’s access to restaurants and students to grow their business and find happy customers. After SkyDeck, Kiwi has gone on to raise $4M from angel investors and a number of venture capital firms.

Asia

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SimpleData

INDIA

The CEO of SimpleData. Raj, understood that banks and enterprises have a whole lot of data that could be unlocked to improve business operations and drive revenue. He came to SkyDeck looking to access our investor network to fundraise and convince Berkeley alumni to become early adopters. After closing a deal with JP Morgan Chase, SimpleData closed a $4M in seed funding from investors like SignalFire.

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ThinkCyte

JAPAN

Spun out of university, ThinkCyte had already raised $2M in dilutive and non-dilutive funding before joining SkyDeck. Here, they were able to access some of Berkeley’s top mechanical engineering professors and researchers to help improve their blood diagnosis tool. After their time at SkyDeck, they raised $17M from a number of investors.

SkyDeck ©MarlaAufmuth MA

Specialized Tracks

Bio Track

Startups working on disruptive ideas in biotech, medtech or life sciences face special challenges. The Bio Track at SkyDeck (Powered by QB3) provides practical resources focused on addressing many of these challenges.

Every six months, at least two companies will be selected for inclusion in SkyDeck’s Bio Track.

Startups accepted into the Bio Track receive:

  • $100K in equity investment from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund
  • Up to 12 months resident access to Berkeley SkyDeck
  • Up to 12 months of sponsored access to bench top space at a local lab (depending on availability and specific needs)
  • Regular support from scientists and investors with a proven history in entrepreneurship in the bio sciences
  • Bi-monthly dinner sessions with advisors / mentors with expertise in the life science space
  • Focused introductions to investors and partners in the life science space

… and of course, access to all of the other resources provided by the Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator.

 

ALUMNI COMPANIES FROM THE BIO TRACK

Zephyrus Bioscience

Valitor

Sublime Therapeutics

Nextbiotics Inc

Chameleon Bioscience

program testimonial

Shannon Hall

Advisory chair - Bio Track

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Chip Track

Novel chip architectures, AI/ML processing units on the edge, low-power IoT sensors… exciting things are happening in the semiconductor space. But for many of the startups working in the semiconductor space, they’re frustrated that they have to raise millions of dollars just to hit “run” on their first prototype.

Berkeley SkyDeck is helping bring the “Silicon” back to

Silicon Valley. The Chip Track at SkyDeck features some of the world’s preeminent academic experts in computer architectures and ASIC design, along with key collaborators from key industry leaders.Every six months, two companies will be selected for inclusion in the Chip Track. For these accepted startups, they will receive:

  • $100k in equity investment from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund
  • Six months residency at Berkeley SkyDeck
  • Access to key industry partners, including SiFive
  • Access to cloud-based PDKs and MPW wafer runs from TSMC to reduce tape-out costs
  • Credits for access to cloud-based digital / analog / simulation tooling from Cadence
  • Access free / discounted IP from a variety of sources, to reduce design costs
  • Access UC Berkeley’s campus resources, including Marvell NanoLab, Molecular Foundry

 

A partial list of advisors for the Chip Track includes luminaries such as:

UC Berkeley Professor David Patterson
Turing Award Winner, Google Brain, RISC-V

UC Berkeley Professor Krste Asanovic
RISC-V, Co-Founder SiFive

UC Berkeley Professor Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli
Co-Founder Cadence, Co-Founder Synopsys

Andrew Waterman
Co-Founder SiFive

Laura Oliphant
Former Investment Director, Intel Capital

Steve Glaser
Former SVP Cadence / Xilinx

program testimonial

Mark Miller

Advisory chair - Chip Track

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Aero Track

The Aero Track at SkyDeck provides world class expertise and connections to the specialized resources needed for startups in aerospace and air mobility. The Aero Track will leverage major initiatives on campus in aerospace, including the Institute for Transportation Studies and the planned Moffett Field R&D Center in partnership with NASA Ames.

Every six months, startups will be selected for inclusion in SkyDeck’s Aero Track.Startups accepted into the Aero Track receive:

  • $105K in equity investment from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund
  • Up to 12 months resident access to Berkeley SkyDeck
  • Regular support from experts and investors with a proven history in entrepreneurship in aerospace and air mobility industries
  • Focused introductions to investors and partners
  • Access to the Richmond Field Station for flight testing

… and of course, access to all of the other resources provided by the Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator.

SkyDeck Faculty Advisors in the Aero Track include:
  • UC Berkeley Professor Karl A. Van Bibber
    Executive Associate Dean, College of Engineering
    Professor, Department of Nuclear Engineering
  • UC Berkeley Professor Alexandre M. Bayen
    Liao-Cho Professor of Engineering
    Director, Institute for Transportation Studies
  • UC Berkeley Professor Raja Sengupta
    Professor, Department of Civil Engineering in Systems and Transportation Engineering

ALUMNI COMPANIES FROM THE AERO TRACK

Skyloom

Herotech8

Squishy Robotics

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Berkeley Acceleration Method

BAM is SkyDeck’s proprietary, six-month program to accelerate startups for strength and success in Silicon Valley. The goal is to fully prepare startups to raise their first round of investment from Silicon Valley VCs. It is a practical, experience-based program designed by serial entrepreneurs, VCs, and thought leaders informed by the discipline of entrepreneurship at UC Berkeley.

 

The BAM program includes expert-led workshops in six critical practice areas, mutual matching to key Advisors, 1:1 office hours with experts, customer introductions through the UC Berkeley community, and curated introductions to hundreds of Seed / A round Silicon Valley investors looking to lead $2-10mm rounds in high-growth startups.

CLICK ON A SECTION TO LEARN MORE

LEADERSHIP & CULTURE PRODUCT FUNDRAISING BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT & SALES BRAND & MARKETING OPERATIONS
David Riemer

David Riemer

Founder

Box Out Industries

Ikhlaq Sidhu

Ikhlaq Sidhu

Founding Director and Chief Scientist

Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at UC Berkeley

Hilary Weber

Hilary Weber

Founder and CEO

Opportu Startup Leadership

Justin Lokitz

Justin Lokitz

Strategy Designer & Managing Director

Business Models, Inc.

Michael Berolzheimer

Michael Berolzheimer

Founder and Managing Partner

Bee Partners

Tim Smith

Tim Smith

Portfolio Operations

Bee Partners

Frequently
Asked
Questions

SkyDeck is industry-agnostic and accepts applications from companies across all industries. We accept startups founded by individuals affiliated with UC Berkeley, any of the University of California campuses, or the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. This includes all undergraduate and graduate students, staff, alumni, researchers, visiting scholars, and faculty are all welcome. Your startup’s affiliated team members can be founders, employees, or advisors. Founders with startups located outside the US are also eligible to apply to SkyDeck. You do not need affiliation with UC Berkeley or one of the UC campuses if your startup is located outside the US.
The Berkeley SkyDeck Fund invests up to $105,000 into companies accepted into the six month SkyDeck Cohort Program. The $105,000 investment is divided into two tranches: $50,000 immediately upon acceptance, and $55,000 after passing your ‘midterm’ 3-months into the program. This is offered via a standard SAFE note, without a discount, and a $2M cap. This accelerator funding can help you make your first outside hires, finish your product, test your go-to market strategy… and so much more. The Fund will also invest up to 10% of your first institutional funding round, helping accelerate your fundraising process even more.
Berkeley SkyDeck charges a $5K program fee to each startup in its cohort program. Pad-13 startups are charged either $500 or can opt to allocate 1% equity to UC Berkeley.
We offer expertise in both business building and fundraising. Our advisor network includes highly experienced Silicon Valley veterans who can offer tremendous guidance in finding product/market fit, building your team, and going to market. We are an official UC Berkeley program, and Berkeley has the largest alumni network in Silicon Valley. We can help you tap into that alumni network effectively. From a fundraising point of view, Berkeley SkyDeck is backed by top industry investors and VCs from Silicon Valley and beyond. They work with us to identify their top targets for future investments. We also have hundreds of seed and angel investors who attend our Demo Days in hopes of finding the next moonshot startup. We have also brought in numerous international and corporate investors who are at SkyDeck to evaluate the potential of your product, and help you interface with other markets world-wide where you might have potential. We also love deep science founders. As a member company here, you can access UC Berkeley lab facilities including QB3 Stanley Hall, LBNL Molecular Foundry, Nanofabrication Lab, Biomolecular Nanotechnology Center, and so much more. And we have lots of expertise ranging from SBIR to IP licensing that we’ll happily share. And finally, remember that a portion of the gains from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund’s investment in your company will go back to the University. If you succeed, you will also be helping the next generation of UC Berkeley entrepreneurs succeed!
We are open to applicants from all sectors, ranging from consumer, to enterprise, to IT, to digital health, to the hardest problems in science. However, keep in mind our goal is to nurture and grow investable companies that can raise money from venture capital or corporate partners after graduation.
Our accelerator program is here to help founders successfully develop their business and raise money from the best institutional VC investors at the best valuations possible. If your company is ready to raise institutional funds within the next six months (with our support), then you are a fit for SkyDeck. Every company situation is different, but within the next six months you should be able to either show significant revenues, or achieve major product milestones. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you consider the process (and these are the same questions we will ask as we evaluate the application):
  • Can I deliver a minimally viable product within the next six months with $105,000 in funding?
  • Is my core team able to working on this full time over the next six months?
  • Are all aspects of the business supported by competent, skilled co-founders?
  • Have I identified who my customer is? Do I know who has buying authority, how much they can pay?
  • Do I know the size of my potential market in 1 year, 3 years, 10 years?
  • Who are my potential competitors, current and future? What advantages do I have over them?
  • What resources or introductions could SkyDeck make, and can these help my business model succeed?
Absolutely. Some companies won’t need the $105,000 in accelerator funding offered by the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund. We encourage you to apply into our “Pad-13” program. The “Pad-13” program offers you many of the same resources that our full cohort companies offer, including access to campus facilities, SkyDeck events, and when appropriate, presenting at Demo Day. And you are eligible to receive investment from Berkeley SkyDeck Fund of up to 10% in an institutional round that you raise after joining SkyDeck.
The Berkeley SkyDeck Fund, for legal reasons, has its own investment review process. The SkyDeck review process is carefully designed to select teams that should be eligible for investment. Each company selected for investment will receive $105K in funding from Berkeley SkyDeck Fund
Companies who have previously been through the program before funding was offered are able to apply again, and will be evaluated on the same basis as all other applicants.
Yes, as long as your startup’s primary residence is SkyDeck and your team attends all required events and meets deadlines for updates, as well as meetings with your Lead Advisor. Sometimes startups attend both SkyDeck and other campus programs such as The Foundry.

Have more questions? Contact us directly and we’ll get back to you.