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University of California has been Long Supporter of Innovation

The University of California has long supported the state’s innovation community, even operating its own incubators and accelerators. Berkeley will now have its own massive new incubator, Bakar Labs, which will house up to 80 young companies a year and have access to University of California’s infrastructure and networks.

The incubator is part of the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub, an ongoing cross-disciplinary programme within the University of California, and is housed in the lovely brutalist Woo Hon Fai Hall, formerly the Berkeley Art Museum. It will be administered by QB3, a pan-UC organisation that coordinates entrepreneurship activities, which will take the place of Berkeley’s much smaller biotech-focused programme.

Bakar Labs would be more of a benevolent host with all the best toys, rather than providing a fixed curriculum of achieving product fit, building the team, and so on that you might find at an accelerator. Berkeley is, of course, a world-class academic institution with an enviable faculty and vast resources — to which those in the incubator would have (limited) access.

Startups are not required to be associated with Berkeley in any way; the hub hopes to draw entrepreneurs from all over the world with its offer of low-cost office and lab space, as well as the aforementioned comprehensive resources. The word “incubator” seems appropriate for both the subject and the process — bring the species in, give them plenty of nutrients.

The laissez-faire attitude extends to funding as well. Companies will pay for their time at the Labs, but there is no agreement to give Berkeley or its affiliated organs any equity or first rights. Investments can still be made through an associated VC fund, according to a QB3 spokesperson, but they aren’t built into the software.

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