‘Entrepreneurship for good’: UC Berkeley launches Bakar BioEnginuity Hub

photo of people walking in a new building
Robert Becker/UC Berkeley/Courtesy
The Bakar BioEnginuity Hub, an initiative intending to empower emergent entrepreneurs, was launched Tuesday. The project will entail the opening of Bakar Labs, which will provide space to promising startups in the STEM field.

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On Tuesday, UC Berkeley virtually launched the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub, an initiative aiming to empower budding entrepreneurs in the East Bay and campus alike.

The initiative, which will be opening its doors in the fall, is being developed in collaboration with QB3, a state institute designed to support research and entrepreneurship.

The project will entail the opening of Bakar Labs, an incubator that will be providing space to promising startups in the STEM field.

“The whole purpose of the incubator is to get companies that are really positioned to make significant changes or advances against challenges that the world has,” said Bakar Labs Managing Director Gino Segrè.

According to campus spokesperson Kyle Gibson, the Bakar Labs will be housed in Woo Hon Fai Hall. Located on Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue, the building was once the Berkeley Art Museum, a Berkeley News article noted.

Bakar BioEnginuity Hub Executive Director Amy Herr noted that innovative research cannot always be achieved through computers and “dusty garages” — it requires specialized equipment and laboratories. This is what the Bakar Labs can provide to startups, Herr said.

Companies that are interested in renting these spaces will be put through an eligibility screening, as well as a committee review process, Segrè added. At maximum capacity, the incubator will be able to house 80 startups.

“Our mission really is entrepreneurship for good,” Segrè said. “We’re sourcing companies from every corner, including UC Berkeley, and we’re very eager to have them apply for space in the incubator.”

According to Herr, UC Berkeley is the optimal place to develop this kind of initiative — partly because of its “dynamic” startup culture. She added that the campus routinely ranks highly in this category across reputable sources.

“We absolutely want this to be a place where students can come and work with the startup companies,” Segrè said. “There will also be opportunities for students to be part of the operating team. We want the talent, energy and enthusiasm that the campus can bring to Bakar Labs.”

The Bakar BioEnginuity Hub will also be launching student-based programs, Gibson said in an email. Along with fellowships and internships, a studio space will also be reserved for these programs within Woo Hon Fai Hall.

Herr added that many research discoveries are being made on campus—discoveries that could positively impact society. Development, however, can be slow, and the goal of the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub is to aid these discoveries and accelerate solutions, Herr added.

“We can agree that there are some monumental challenges that are facing humanity at this moment,” Herr said. “They really demand that we step up and try to figure out how to solve those problems more quickly than we might if we let this process of translation happen organically.”

Contact Kelly Suth at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @kellyannesuth.