Spin microscopy for quantum computing, underwater nanoscience for clean tech, and bio-prospected hemp are a few of the novel technologies represented in the fall incubator cohort announced by the CITRIS Foundry, the innovation hub of the multicampus Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute, headquartered at UC Berkeley.
The teams – which include graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, and UC alums – represent a wide range of academic disciplines, from Engineering, Chemistry, and Medicine to Business and Letters & Science, along with researchers from Berkeley Lab. Teams are targeting malaria, glaucoma, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); repurposing EV batteries for grid-scale storage; and preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist. As the first incubator cohort since the Foundry relaunched in May, the teams enter a restructured six-month program.
“We looked at the ecosystem at Berkeley and other UC campuses and decided to broaden our scope to support various tracks of technology-based innovations, says Maher Hakim, director of the CITRIS Foundry. We now include technology-driven social enterprises as well as innovation via technology transfer, in addition to our traditional tech-based startups track.”
The program provides resources to navigate the foundational steps needed for early-stage innovation: securing funding and talent, creating the right culture and mindset, and building the right product for the right market with the right business model. These resources include expert guidance and coaching, co-working studio space, and a deep toolbox of business resources such as legal support and licensing. Most critically, the program leverages the robust innovation ecosystem at UC Berkeley and the University of California, expanding out from the Silicon Valley’s tech capital to the world.
Within its first 5 years, the CITRIS Foundry graduated 43 company teams, 79 percent of which were externally funded within 18 months of graduation. Those companies are now working in the forefront of neuroscience, gene editing, photonics, biomimicry, and more.
The cohort was announced at a kickoff event on September 5, where Foundry company alums and other startup founders discussed their entrepreneurial journeys. Co-sponsored by UC’s Women in Tech Initiative and the Berkeley Lab’s Cyclotron Road accelerator, the public event drew an audience of scientists, engineers, and undergraduate and graduate students from diverse fields to Banatao Auditorium at CITRIS headquarters in Sutardja Dai Hall on the Berkeley campus.
“It was very meaningful to have these conversations with experts in the tech field,” says UCSF neurologist Rachel Kuperman, MD and CEO of Eysz, a new Foundry company team developing eye-tracking algorithms to detect seizures.
For more information about the CITRIS Foundry, see citrisfoundry.org.
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Photo: Kira Gardner