Berkeley SkyDeck selected 16 startups from a global applicant pool for its fall 2020 startup accelerator program, announced Oct. 29.
Named by Forbes in 2019 as one of the top five university accelerators, Berkeley SkyDeck is UC Berkeley’s business startup accelerator and incubator program, according to a Berkeley SkyDeck press release. The accelerator program is a six-month mentorship program to prepare chosen startups to pitch their companies to investors.
Caroline Winnett, executive director of Berkeley SkyDeck, described the program as “unique to Berkeley.”
“Most universities don’t do this Silicon Valley startup accelerations themselves,” Winnett said. “Having this accelerator program where you get in, you’re coached, you’re given a lot of resources and support and then present at a formal demo day that’s attended by very very serious investors — that’s not something universities do typically, but we do in Berkeley.”
This year, there were a record-breaking 1,850 applicants from around the world, Winnett said. She added that the application process was “pretty selective,” as teams were chosen after several rounds of evaluations.
The selected startups represent a wide range of industries, including life sciences, robotics, health, bioscience solutions, enterprise software and artificial intelligence, according to the press release.
One startup selected for the program is an energy company created by a campus faculty member and graduate student, according to Winnett. Their product was developed in campus labs and focuses on improving battery technology to prevent batteries from catching on fire.
“We are thrilled to have received the largest number of applications to date, spanning five continents,” Winnett said in the press release. “For our Fall remote cohort, we selected the best of the best.”
The startups will receive a $105,000 investment from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund, along with access to a network of UC Berkeley alumni and 300 advisors and mentors originating from a variety of backgrounds, according to the press release. This is intended to prepare startups to pitch to more than 800 investors on Demo Day in April.
During the six-month program, startups will work with their advisors on all aspects of their companies, including developing their products and receiving legal support, product pitching advice and resources to help them succeed.
“Being a startup founder is tough, and it’s a lot of work to try to build something from scratch,” Winnett said. “We have whatever resources that they need, and our superpower that we have that’s really unique is the 500,000 living Berkeley alumni around the world.”