California awards $20 million to Institutes for Science and Innovation for workforce development

CITRIS student teams

CITRIS is poised to offer new training programs and workforce development thanks to additional support from the FY22 state budget. 

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law California’s 2021-2022 budget, which includes special one-time awards to the Institutes for Science and Innovation (ISI) to create training programs to develop the state’s workforce. The additional funding of $20 million will fill a gap that the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute (CITRIS) is uniquely positioned to fill, and will support hundreds of students to benefit directly from stipends, fellowships, internships, and specialized training. 

CITRIS, representing campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz, will collaborate with the other three ISIs to design programs that will benefit the state and people of California through this opportunity. Together the Institutes represent nine UC campuses with programs in life sciences, nanotechnology, advanced communications and more.

The funds will be used to leverage state investments to support undergraduate and graduate students to hone their skills in transitioning from university labs to startup ventures, established industries, or public service. The programs will offer targeted training and experience in testing market feasibility and commercialization strategies, building on their technical expertise or design thinking. 

“CITRIS is excited to expand our capacity to serve students and contribute to meeting the demand for a skilled and entrepreneurial workforce in California through this supplementary funding,” said Camille Crittenden, CITRIS’s Executive Director. “The additional allocation will not only provide direct support to students across CITRIS’s four campuses but will help to level the playing field by providing resources for internships and connections to executive leaders that may otherwise be scarce or unavailable.”

With the support of this additional funding from the state of California, CITRIS and the CITRIS Foundry will facilitate internships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students (individuals and teams) to create new opportunities for future employment in a range of sectors. Drawing from academic research communities, students will be able to explore career pathways into industry, startups, nonprofit organizations or government, in addition to more traditional academic careers. Exposure to entrepreneurial activities, whether within a venture or through broader professional development training, will hone students’ skills with workforce needs in mind. Participants in the program will form an alumni cohort connected to CITRIS and working in cutting-edge sectors.

In all cases, CITRIS plans to actively recruit under-represented populations through its EDGE in Tech initiative to increase opportunities for students to transition to meaningful work after graduation. To prepare individual students or student teams for their off-campus engagements, CITRIS will also develop an online curriculum to summarize the unique insights from the Foundry, EDGE in Tech, and the Institute’s campus-based student programs. 

CITRIS seeks to leverage the investment from the state by raising at least one-to-one matching funds from industry partners. In addition to augmenting individual student stipends, partners from industry will be invited to match stipends for student teams (up to $25,000 per team) or for graduate student fellows (up to $50,000 per fellow, for one year). 

“CITRIS has a number of platforms on which to build this extension of our impact in California, including the Foundry Innovation Incubator, the CITRIS Seed Award Program, and the CITRIS Invention Lab,” said CITRIS Director Costas Spanos. “We welcome the opportunity to strengthen public-private partnerships in the technology sector and foster inclusive innovation for the next generation.”