Mike Cohen

Director, Innovation Ecosystem Development & Associate Director, OTL
(510) 643-4218

As the Office of Technology Licensing's Director of Innovation Ecosystem Development, Mike drives initiatives and agreements that catalyze the commercialization of UC Berkeley innovations, and support the funding of campus research. In this role, Mike collaborates with faculty, students, startup companies, large corporations, entrepreneurs, investors and IP attorneys. Mike has worked with hundreds of startups, and he has spearheaded the licensing of over 100 innovations in numerous areas including biofuels, medical devices, nano technologies, photovoltaics, robotics, semiconductors, software, smart grid, wireless sensors, and biomimetic inventions.

Mike is a recipient of the 2012 UC Berkeley Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award for: (1) developing strategies that maximize the commercialization of UC Berkeley innovations; (2) growing Berkeley's innovation ecosystem in ways that bolster the University's research and education mission - as well as drive local economic vitality; and (3) changing the perception of Berkeley's IP practices among faculty, entrepreneurs and investors.

Mike is a recipient of the 2017 Berkeley Visionary Award for co-founding the Berkeley-based, Peak Democracy Inc, SkyDeck startup accelerator, and the Berkeley Startup Cluster.

Mike is frequent presenter, and has published eight peer-reviewed journal articles related to commercializing university innovations, growing university innovation ecosystems,  managing university IP, and leveraging universities to drive economic development. His award winning research on how university innovations get commercialized led to his conceptualization of the 4Ms of innovation commercialization (morphed, mined, milked, and marketed) - a framework for university strategies and programs.

Mike conceived, named, co-championed and was the founding director (part-time) of the award winning SkyDeck - an information technology-oriented startup accelerator in Downtown Berkeley. Mike's initiatives include co-founding the Berkeley Startup Cluster, and the QB3 East Bay Innovation Center - a wet lab startup incubator for bioscience companies in West Berkeley. Mike also was on the steering committees for the East Bay Green Corridor, and UC Berkeley's Cleantech-to-Market program.

In 2015, Mike developed UC Berkeley's Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Web Directory - a prototype for a website that serves as a single source for the University's vast, dynamic and decentralized entrepreneurship-related programs, resources and events.

In 2014, Mike became a member of the Advisory Board of the UC Berkeley Data and Democracy Initiative based on his experience co-founding the UC Berkeley spin-out, Peak Democracy Inc - the nation's leading provider of online citizen engagement SaaS that increase public trust in government.

In 2013, Mike championed, authored and transacted the University of California's first agreement that provides the University with stock in startups that participate in a UC Berkeley accelerator program - such as the CITRIS Foundry.

Mike ran the Office of Technology Licensing from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2010. Under his leadership, the office's key performance metric - the number of commercial IP rights agreements - grew steadily (despite the recession and furloughs). Mike introduced to the office a patent decision making protocol along with financial tools, management oversight and transparency that enabled the office to cut costs and increase income by $1 million. Mike also introduced to the office a collegial approach to delegating workload and vetting key IP decisions. Mike's management activities are highlighted in the office's Fiscal Year 09 Annual Report, and Fiscal Year 08 Annual Report.

Prior to his work at UC Berkeley, Mike held board, executive, product management, marketing, business development and engineering positions at high tech companies including HP, Sun, Mips Computers, Silicon Graphics, Netpulse Networks, and Peak Democracy. Mike co-founded two technology-based companies, and he has MBA and engineering degrees from Harvard and Tufts.

Mike, his wife and two children live in Berkeley where he is a Board Member of Livable Berkeley, and a former Chairperson of the City's Zoning Adjustments Board.



Mike Talking to Students in the Berkeley Energy & Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Lab




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