Bio for Michael Cohen

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, startups, established companies, entrepreneurs, investors and IP attorneys. Mike has worked with over 100 startups, and he has spearheaded the licensing of over 100 innovations in numerous areas including biofuels, medical devices, photovoltaics, semiconductors, software, smart grid, wireless sensors, nano technology and biomimetic inventions. 

Mike was named a recipient of the UC Berkeley 2012 Chancellor's Outstanding Staff Award for: (1) developing strategies to maximize the commercialization of UC Berkeley innovations; (2) growing Berkeley's local 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 has published seven peer-reviewed journal articles related to managing university IP, commercializing university innovations, 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, policies and practices.

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 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 also was on the steering committees for the East Bay Green Corridor, and UC Berkeley's Cleantech-to-Market program.

In 2015, Mike led the development of UC Berkeley's Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Web Directory - a single source for the University's vast entrepreneurship-related programs and resources.

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 services 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, Silicon Graphics, Netpulse and Peak Democracy. Mike co-founded three 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


"Strategies for Developing University Innovation Ecosystems:  An Analysis, Segmentation and Strategic Framework Based on Somewhat Non-Intuitive and Slightly Controversial Findings" White Paper, Spring 2016. 

"Seven Somewhat Non-Standard Suggestions for Negotiating University IP Rights Agreements", les Nouvelles - The Journal of the Licensing Executive Society, September 2015: 127-128.

"The Strategic Value of a University's Hyper-Local Innovation Ecosystem: Grow, Branch or Envy". Blogged on 2012 Oct 19. Featured in Technology Transfer Tactics, December 2012: 188.

"Localizing the Commercialization of UC Berkeley Innovations: A Justification, Strategy & Plan to Take the Campus to the Third Tier of Innovation Ecosystems".  White Paper distributed in June 2011.

"The Research-Oriented Approach to University IP: A Reinvention of University IP Management Away From a Focus on Licensing to a Focus on Research", les Nouvelles - The Journal of the Licensing Executive Society, June 2010: 97-102.

"Organizational Excellence and University IP Management Offices: Without Competition, Is It Necessary to Pursue Excellence, and If Yes, Then How?", Tomorrow's Technology Transfer - The Journal of the Association of University Technology Managers, Winter/Spring 2010: 1-5.

"How Competitive Advantages Can Lead to a Great Research University: A Case Study of UC Berkeley". Initially Distributed on 2010 Nov. 

"The 4M Framework for How University Innovations Get Commercialized, and Corresponding Ways to Optimize University IP Policies and Practices", les Nouvelles - The Journal of the Licensing Executive Society, December 2008: 256-260.

"Involve Inventors Throughout the IP Commercialization Process: The Benefits can be Substantial and the Risks can be Managed", les Nouvelles - The Journal of the Licensing Executive Society, September 2007: 516-518.

"To Stimulate Economic Development from Universities, Governments Should Bolster Research and Infrastructure, Not Fund Start-ups", les Nouvelles - The Journal of the Licensing Executive Society, March 2006: 27-28.

"University Licensing Offices Need to Clarify the Role of Licensing in Economic Development", les Nouvelles - The Journal of the Licensing Executive Society, December 2005: 174-176.


PowerPoint Stack Used in Presentation to the UC Berkeley Innovation Council, 2015 August 27

Keynote presentation at NSF-sponsored UC Davis symposium on Innovation Ecosystems, September 2013.

"Commercializing UC Berkeley Innovations via the University's Innovation Ecosystem", Sundry guest lectures, 2012.

"The Role of Universities in Regional Green Economies: A Perspective from the University Office that is at the Nexus of Research and Business", Innovating the Green Economy, 2010 Jan 21.

"How Clean Tech Entrepreneurs Can Leverage UC Berkeley Technology Commercialization Opportunities", California Clean Tech Open - Matching Event, May 2009.

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