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Are you ready to found a buzzy startup? Or do you have ideas for an innovative social venture? For many graduate students, career exploration is not limited to finding a job in an existing institution; you too could start an entrepreneurship journey and become a business owner.

As a graduate student at Berkeley, you are here to develop expertise in a specific field, but beyond the classroom and research labs, Berkeley also offers a wealth of resources on entrepreneurship and innovation. In this article, we present some of the resources campus offers for student entrepreneurs. 

Local Magnets for Student Entrepreneurs

The Berkeley Gateway to Innovation (BEGIN)

Do you know that Berkeley has a dedicated initiative for entrepreneurship and innovation? The Berkeley Gateway to Innovation (BEGIN) is your first stop for information about entrepreneurship resources at Berkeley, ranging from new venture education to accelerators, to funding. The site offers a directory of information about how to become an entrepreneur, where to find seed funding and legal advice, how to recruit teammates, and where to locate office space.

The Berkeley SkyDeck

The Berkeley SkyDeck is an accelerator for start-up companies. SkyDeck offers all the benefits of a traditional accelerator along with the vast resources of the world’s number-one ranked public university. Formed as a partnership between UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research, SkyDeck offers a powerful environment for startups to grow and launch. The robust and vibrant ecosystem includes a deep network of advisors, industry partners, and accredited investors. Skydeck’s applications open in August – make sure to check out their website to stay updated.

The CITRIS Foundry Incubator for Tech Innovation

The CITRIS Foundry is a multi-campus incubator for tech innovation. The Foundry’s Incubator offers guidance, education, and a home-base to de-risk entrepreneurship for early-stage founders, especially supporting those who have been historically marginalized, allowing innovators to confidently identify pathways to success and reach the next stage of development and investment for their emerging technology venture. The CITRIS Foundry supports emerging technology teams working across every sector to deploy their innovations within the following social impact areas: health, energy, crisis response, education, environment, equity and inclusion, infrastructure, information verification and validation, public and social sector, and agriculture and food. The CITRIS Foundry Incubator helps entrepreneurs to build skills, de-risk their businesses, and provides research as well as networking resources to its participants. 

QB3: The Multi-Campus Innovation Center for Startup Technology Companies

QB3 — the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences — is a consortium of more than 200 laboratories located at UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and UC Santa Cruz. This includes a 9,300-square-foot facility nicknamed the Bakery, an innovation center for startup technology companies, with wet labs, fume hoods, bio-safety cabinets, freezers, autoclave, and other specialized equipment   (Fun fact: the facility was previously a bakery, where Twinkies were made). The other incubators are located at Berkeley’s Stanley Hall (the QB3 Garage), the UCSF campus at Mission Bay (the Mission Bay Innovation Center and the QB3 Garage at UCSF), and at UCSC.

Big Ideas@Berkeley

Big Ideas @ Berkeley is an annual innovation contest aimed at providing funding, support, and encouragement to interdisciplinary teams of UC undergraduate and graduate students who create innovative and high-impact student projects aimed at solving the world’s most pressing problems. Two out of the three projects currently featured on the Big Ideas website had grad students at their center. A social venture called Acapio, for instance, won a $10,000 first place scaling-up prize, which will help the Acapio team members get vital data to rural coffee farmers in Latin America.

Courses on Entrepreneurship 

Berkeley offers a variety of courses that help you to build new skills or explore new fields. Here is a sample of courses on entrepreneurship that you might find interesting. Make sure to consult with the course enrollment coordinators if you would like to enroll in these courses: 

Whatever your background, and wherever you are on your entrepreneurial journey, Graduate Division’s GradPro office  and the Career Center are always happy to help connect you with resources on entrepreneurship. Book a one-on-one professional development consultation with GradPro today to learn more about entrepreneurship resources. 


About the author: Allyson Kohen is a UC Berkeley Ph.D. student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and a Professional Development Liaison in the GradPro office of the Graduate Division.