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UC Berkeley accelerator wants to bring silicon back to Silicon Valley

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By eeNews Europe

Starting with the first cohort of 2019, startups focused on semiconductor design and other related technologies will be offered the dedicated resources necessary to help them achieve their goals, including expertise from key scientific and industry advisors.

As part of the SkyDeck program, IC design tool company Cadence; independent semiconductor foundry TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co) and processor cores provider SiFive are collaborating to support SkyDeck’s plans for the design environment of the new Chip Track.

Over the past two decades, Silicon Valley has become increasingly focused on software and business model innovation, while startups in the semiconductor industry have struggled to gain traction and raise early stage venture funding.

The greatest challenge semiconductor startups face today is the high initial cost involved with prototyping new chip designs. Without functioning prototypes and firm customer commitments, founders in the semiconductor space can often struggle to attract initial funding.

By participating in the 12-month long Chip Track, startups developing chips for applications ranging from machine learning to computer vision, from high-performance data centres to low-power embedded IoT, will receive $100k in investment from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund and access to a variety of resources from industry collaborators. For founders, this could be an opportunity to materialize their initial design in silicon, and even take their product to market before having to raise outside funding.

The unique service offerings and technical expertise from these industry companies are not available to these founders anywhere else. “The real-world industry guidance of these collaborators coupled with the top engineers and professors from UC Berkeley’s academic ecosystem will provide chip companies with a unique opportunity to excel, thrive and make deep connections to help them develop extraordinary technology that could change the world,” said Caroline Winnett, Executive Director, Berkeley SkyDeck.

“This new program will help bring the silicon back to Silicon Valley,” said Chon Tang, managing director, Berkeley SkyDeck Fund. “By collaborating with key industry leaders like Cadence, TSMC and SiFive, and with the long history of Berkeley’s research labs and alumni responsible for many of the semiconductor companies which defined this space, Berkeley SkyDeck is going to enable a new generation of semiconductor startup founders.”


Advisors to the new chip startups include leading UC Berkeley faculty such as the inventor of RISC-V, Professor Krste Asanović, and Professor Emeritus and Turing Award winner David Patterson. Says Professor Patterson, “The market need for breakthrough technologies in the semiconductor space has become increasingly obvious; Moore’s Law is beginning to fail, just as novel use cases for AI and IoT places new demands on chip designs. It is time for a specialized Chip Track to bring the best talent, the most in-depth guidance and industry experience together to support creative startup founders as they develop the next chip architecture.”

Berkeley SkyDeck is accepting applications for the Chip Track and its entire Spring 2019 Accelerator and Incubator (Hot Desk) programs now through October 31st.

Berkeley SkyDeck is a joint program of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. SkyDeck combines the hands-on mentorship of traditional accelerators with the vast resources of its research university. This holistic partnership is coupled with SkyDeck’s unique accelerator program to create a powerful environment for startups. Participating startups have access to more than 150 advisers, 30 industry partners, and a large network of accredited investors who connect SkyTeams to the expertise and capital they need to launch and grow their world-changing innovations. For more information, Berkeley SkyDeck – https://skydeck.berkeley.edu


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