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Academic Innovation Catalyst Partners with UC Berkeley Bakar Fellows Program to Launch Deep Tech Funding Platform

Academic Innovation Catalyst

Academic Innovation Catalyst, a deep tech funding platform, teamed up with the Bakar Fellows Program, UC Berkeley’s proof-of-concept funding platform, to award grants to Berkeley faculty engaged in deep technology research.

Over time, AIC intends to establish additional partnerships at UC Berkeley and other research institutions.  

This pilot partnership will provide two grants to Berkeley faculty in addition to the eleven awarded to Bakar Fellows. AIC grant recipients will receive $300K over three years for market research, prototype development and other commercialization activities. AIC will also support the Bakar Fellows infrastructure, for a total initial commitment of $690K.

Initially, AIC will focus on investing in climate technologies with significant promise if deployed commercially. In parallel, Berkeley has been developing programs including the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub (BBH) and emerging efforts in climate technology to lower barriers to translating technologies from academia into startup companies.

Founded in 2023 by Matt and Lisa Sonsini, Academic Innovation Catalyst (AIC) provides additional funding and support to academic research ventures with significant potential for commercialization of deep technology innovations. Drawing on their expertise as startup advisors, investors, executives and philanthropists, the Sonsinis and their team aim to provide an additional catalyst for the practical application of academic innovations.

The Bakar Fellows Program at UC Berkeley supports faculty with proof-of-concept funding for projects that are more advanced than basic research, but not yet to the point of commercialization, to mature and translate their discoveries and innovations. Research support is provided through Spark Awards and can be solo projects or joint projects with faculty at UCSF.