Startup Pathways for Faculty

UC Berkeley’s innovation & entrepreneurship (I&E) ecosystem provides faculty with critical support for launching startups. Since every startup situation and journey is unique, there’s no single linear pathway for success. Your journey may include several programs, with invaluable lessons and connections from each. Beyond all the resources the university offers to support your efforts, turning an idea into a thriving business depends upon your own resourcefulness, team skills, product fit, and market response.

Campus I&E Ecosystem

Familiarize yourself with the campus programs designed to position UC Berkeley entrepreneurs for success. UC Berkeley is home to more than 80 I&E programs led by experienced professionals who help entrepreneurs overcome obstacles, build teams, raise funds, and grow their startups. 

Reach out to those that seem to best fit your needs.

Programs Well-Suited for Academic Researchers

Getting Started: Signature I&E Springboards

These programs are jumping-off points for moving from innovation to company launch. They guide founders through identifying target audiences, honing business plans, and fine-tuning pitches for funding. They also serve as gateways to the local entrepreneur community, connecting founders to networks of mentors and advisors. These are listed from the shortest commitment, to the longest.

  • NSF I-Corps Method(link is external). Learn how to identify your customer and achieve product-market fit by applying the scientific method to business. Start with a free 3-evening, 1-week course through Intro to Lean Startup: NSF I-Corps Method, which welcomes early-stage teams interested in commercializing technology in all STEM fields. Courses are offered monthly and are virtual. Qualifying academic teams can move on to the National program, with $50k for customer discovery activities including conferences and travel for customer discovery interviews.
  • Berkeley STeP(link is external). Take your first step into the Berkeley I&E ecosystem in a free, 10-week program, meeting weekly. Faculty-led teams are included in every cohort, alongside postdocs, grad students, and undergrads. Apply as a team, founder seeking teammates, or as an individual seeking a team.
  • LAUNCH(link is external). LAUNCH is a UC-wide accelerator designed to transform early-stage startups into fundable companies. Teams with evidence of product-market fit (initial sales, pilots, LOIs) are paired with serial-entrepreneurs and mentors to support them through a rigorous Lean Startup-focused curriculum. The three-month-long accelerator helps UC startups quickly discover and develop scalable business models.
  • Berkeley SkyDeck(link is external). Get hands-on mentorship, and access to advisers, industry partners, and accredited investors who can help you launch and grow world-changing innovations across all industries. SkyDeck offers several programs. A startup at the idea stage, with just one or two founders, might be well suited for the 3-month Pad-13 program. A team working working full time toward major product milestones might consider applying for the 6-month Berkeley SkyDeck Accelerator Program Cohort, in which startups receive a $200,000 investment from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund.

Programs and Facilities for Translational Research and Product Development

Find space, equipment, mentorship, and connections to a vibrant, proven ecosystem for spinning out startups and commercializing products born out of laboratory research discoveries.

  • Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Center(link is external). If your startup plans to commercialize life sciences technology, contact LSEC. The office’s staff has deep expertise with the dynamics of startups in the life sciences sectors.
  • Bakar Fellows(link is external). This fellowship offers funding for proof-of-concept R&D to advance your technology beyond the academic research stage, plus access to mentors and advisors.
  • Bakar Bioenginuity Hub(link is external). BBH brings together entrepreneurs across disciplines, offering a vibrant community, distinguished mentors, and lab space explicitly for translational science in the BBH world-class incubator space, Bakar Labs(link is external).
  • Berkeley Research Infrastructure Commons. Industry and academia can share research facilities and services through the Berkeley RIC. The RIC-FLEXIE program enables early stage (pre-product sales) startup companies affiliated with UC Berkeley to temporarily conduct new product research and development (R&D) in faculty labs, under certain conditions and rigorous oversight.

Guidance for Graduate Students and Postdocs

These programs support graduate students and postdocs with training, mentorship, and funding.

If you plan to leverage patentable inventions or copyrightable software developed on campus, contact the UC Berkeley Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) for help with disclosures, patenting, licensing, and most other aspects of commercializing technology.

The businesses launched and products commercialized by UC Berkeley faculty and graduate students are powerful engines for innovation, change, and societal good. 

Support Services and Resources