Tech Transfer eNews Blog

UC Berkeley engineering juniors launch the school’s first student-run start-up incubator

By David Schwartz
Published: September 10th, 2014

The University of California at Berkeley is seeing its first ever student-run startup incubator open up shop on campus. Co-founded by UC College of Engineering juniors Taner Dagdelen and Zachary Zeleznick, the incubator Catalyst@Berkeley will focus on health tech start-ups. A group of experienced entrepreneurs including Mike Cassidy, project director at Google’s secret research lab, and Divya Nag, co-founder of the Stanford accelerator StartX Med, will advise Dagdelen and Zeleznick on how to successfully run Catalyst.

“I have seen first hand how many med companies fail even before they even have the chance to start because they didn’t have the right resources and community to be successful,” says Nag. “I’m excited to see that Catalyst is going to be helping to unlock many students’ potential.”

Zeleznick’s own inspiration for launching Catalyst originated in a health tech code-a-thon he and his team won last year, after which he discovered his friends had no future plans for the ideas they had just sold to the judges.

“I just felt like something more needed to be done,” Zeleznick says. “We had just touched the tip of the iceberg. As an undergraduate, these things are possible. We can come in with just a few ideas and present something to the industry. And not only do they think it’s cool, they’re also willing to throw in a cash prize.”

Catalyst will host weekly lectures with guest speakers on entrepreneurship, workshops for prototype development, and weekly visits to hospitals and clinics to speak with doctors about needs in the health care field. In addition, the incubator will provide at least $1,000 toward the projects.

At the end of the semester, Catalyst will host a demo day for students to showcase their projects to industry reps with the hope of receiving valuable feedback and selling their pitches. Still, Zeleznick stresses that financial success is not the sole purpose of Catalyst. “It’s not the end goal to form a company,” he says. “It’s about the process. We’re trying to set the new standard for innovation.”

Source: The Daily Californian

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