Rejuvenating Innovation at Berkeley

Reposted from the June 2014 Dean’s message in Innovations online.  Also Congrats to Imprint Energy which just secured a $6M Series A round.

image

By Shankar Sastry, Dean, College of Engineering, UC Berkeley

Conventional wisdom has it that entrepreneurs are born that way. At Berkeley, however, we thrive on proving conventional wisdom wrong. After almost a decade of teaching entrepreneurship in Berkeley Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (CET), Ikhlaq Sidhu, Ken Singer, our talented industry faculty and our hard-working staff have demonstrated that indeed, entrepreneurship can be learned, and that Berkeley can teach it.

Since it opened in 2005, CET has launched numerous student-created ventures and trained over 3,000 Berkeley undergraduates using a one-of-a-kind teaching model, the “Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship.”

The Berkeley Method, co-developed by IEOR professor Ikhlaq Sidhu, CET’s chief scientist and founding director, and Ken Singer, CET’s managing director, uses games and exercises to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in students while offering the tactics and infrastructure to support the process of creating a new venture (see CET’s curriculum page).

Throughout, CET has offered an educational pathway for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators. Along with the A. Richard Newton lecture series, CET offers innovative course models like “challenge labs” for mobile applications, big data, social entrepreneurship and other areas. We also offer the Venture Lab to incubate nascent projects, and the new SkyDeck accelerator for more polished firms that are launch-ready.

The 3-D printing startup Twindom, for example, began as a CET class project and then took form in Venture Lab and SkyDeck. Twindom generates lifelike ceramic figurines from photographs and has already attracted $400,000 from Tim Draper and other investors.

Other CET-launched firms include Mixbook, inDinero, Imprint Energy, CellAsic, AdsNative and Eko. Thousands of CET alumni have become integral members of the ecosystem of new ventures and innovation leadership in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What is next for technology entrepreneurship at Berkeley? In 2015, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of CET, as we grow CET to support ever more Berkeley students. IEOR department chair Phil Kaminsky will join the leadership team in the role of faculty director, helping to strengthen CET’s connection with its home department, IEOR. Working with Ikhlaq and Ken, Phil will also lead the development of a new minor in entrepreneurship and technology and strengthen ties with our new Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation.

We are really excited to see CET begin its second decade of nurturing entrepreneurs who share a globally aware, socially committed approach to technology innovation – as you would expect at Berkeley. If you would like to get involved, just let us know.

S. Shankar Sastry
Dean and Carlson Professor of Engineering
Director, Blum Center for Developing Economies
Email Dean Sastry