Ikhlaq Sidhu hosts workshop to help universities accelerate innovation through industry collaboration – UC Berkeley Sutardja Center

Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology’s faculty director and founder, Dr. Ikhlaq Sihdu, recently hosted a workshop at Hamid bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in Qatar to explore how university scientists and researchers can spur innovation through industry collaboration. Ikhlaq delivered … Read More

Source: Ikhlaq Sidhu hosts workshop to help universities accelerate innovation through industry collaboration – UC Berkeley Sutardja Center

Engineering Leadership Professional Program Joined by Keyssa CEO & VP – UC Berkeley Sutardja Center

  Last night, the Engineering Leadership Professional Program had the pleasure of being joined by Eric Almgren and Steve Venuti of Keyssa’s leadership team, who provided first-hand insights on the new Keyssa case (Keyssa: Unraveling the Laws of Physics). The … Read More

Source: Engineering Leadership Professional Program Joined by Keyssa CEO & VP – UC Berkeley Sutardja Center

Berkeley Innovation Index, A New Concept for Measuring Innovation

The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology recently released the first version of a Berkeley Innovation Index (BII) Concept Paper. Developed by a eclectic team of psychologists, engineers and entrepreneurs, this index aims at bringing new insights and possibilities for innovation measurement. Read the full BII concept paper here.


Innovation is widely recognized as an important variable to create competitive advantage and drive economic growth. Innovation is also a relatively vague concept, but the absence of it results in stagnation and loss of competitive behaviors. Innovation capability is the ability to be innovative, and is a characteristic of individuals as well as organizations. The issue with learning and executing “innovation” is that it is often removed from actual situations, too theoretical, not time-ordered, and not holistic.

In this concept paper, it contends that if innovation cannot be measured, then it is inherently difficult for any person or organization to improve their ability to be innovative. Most past measures have not been insightful or holistic. For example, the numbers of patents or the amount of money spent on R&D have not shown any causality with organizations’ ability to be innovative.

BII is a concept and an open project to offer simple yet powerful ways to measure innovation capability in a holistic sense.  These measures, models and tools are based on previously published research findings. The approach is also intended to cover layers of innovation that range from the following fields: 1) Strategy and Leadership, 2) Innovation Culture from an Organization’s Viewpoint, 3) Organizational Operations and Measures across functions, 4) Mindset: The Innovation DNA of the People, and 5) Tactical measures.

When measured and considered across all levels, we believe that the innovation measurement process can be made more accurate and diagnosable.

To measure your own innovation measurement through BII, click here.

What’s Next for Entrepreneurship Centers?


Posted by Ikhlaq Sidhu, October 2014

State of the E-Art

You may have seen our previously released slide set, “How to Build a Modern Entrepreneurship Center” (here’s a link –  E-Center 2.0 Public-9-2014-Compressed). It’s a pretty good summary of what we have learned so far, based on our past 10 years at UC Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (CET).

Here’s the summary in keywords: Stakeholders; Measures; Curriculum Journey; Psychology; Mindset; Role Models; Balanced Message; Ecosystem; Boards; Boot-camps; Challenge-based; Theory; Inductive; Lean; Pivot; Acceleration; Research-Driven Entrepreneurship; and Industry Interfaces. Take a breath, and now let’s move on.

Artificial Limitations

I think all this really begs the question, “What’s Next?” for start-up programs. And as far as we have come, in my opinion, there are still a couple of major aspects that need our attention.

  1. Too obsessed with the very earliest stage. Every class and project continues to focus on getting a group of students together to form an idea, test it with validation, and make a plan for launching it into a market. This is fine as a learning exercise, but it’s highly limiting in terms of opportunities for students and new ventures. It’s a long way from concept to company, and I submit that success rates will always be low if that remains the only path for students to enter the new venture economy.
  1. Too much on-campus focus. How many ventures start from within a university compared to the numbers that start off-campus? It’s just as important for entrepreneurially minded students to affect and become part of the opportunities emerging off-campus as it is to have access to the opportunities on-campus. Even for teaching, can we really ignore the value creation that occurs outside campus grounds? This overly obsessive inward focus is an artificially imposed limitation of many entrepreneurship programs today.

It’s Time to Break Through

I’m not saying today’s models are bad. But let’s brainstorm to add some new ideas to what we already do today.* Here are five examples:

Examples Today The Alternative
Acceleration 2.0 On campus Business Plan competition Competitions for the area’s best projects with opportunities for students to become part of the winning teams (or vice versa)
Catching the Right Wave Students have all the initial ideas Investors and their Entrepreneurs-In-Residence explain their Investment thesis and concepts on campus to reach the right specialists
Translated Research Research student try to find an application for their own research Researchers interact with industry execs, and entrepreneurs to employ their skills in valuable directions they could not have known about on their own
Challenges are Better than Resumes Executives send recruiters on campus to look at resumes Executive offer challenges that can benefit their firms, and the best students or researchers form teams to illustrate that their skills and creativity and possibly affect the solutions
Venture Collision Student start-ups compete with high profile start-ups High profile start-ups pitch on campus to explain why they are going to win in the market – and how the right students (individually or as nascent teams) could be part of the opportunity, via hiring, morphing, complementing, spin-ins, etc.
* All of these are examples of a “Collider Model” for venture creation.

Finding the Break Points

To me, a key is understanding where, during a firm’s development, student skills and research capabilities are best utilized.   When I think about company lifecycle, some intersecting points are better than others. Here are some common stages:

  • Ideation (your background skills mixed with changes in the environment) – Good timing to mix campus ideas with off campus people.
  • Post Series A Funding (laser focus on meeting growth targets)- Bad timing. Only hiring is possible. These firms cannot afford to deviate from their plan at this stage.
  • Crossing 500-1,000 people – Good timing. It’s the beginning of a period of new experiments and opportunities and usually the firm is looking to diversify product or service.
  • Large Enterprise, post 5000 people. Good timing, you just have to find the right part of the company which is ready to partner, be a customer, spin in a project, or try some moonshot experiment. Here there is always some part of the firm that is in a phase ready for new experiments.

Let me reiterate. My view is that there is nothing wrong with the learning process developed so far, including ideation, validation, adaptation, lean methods, mindset, ecosystem, etc. It’s all great and we now have a vocabulary and a way to teach things that were all very mysterious before.

However, it is far from the reality that firms and innovations all start with a blank sheet of paper or design on a cocktail napkin. So why should we only teach that method to students? In this next phase of entrepreneurship education, we need to look more carefully at the opportunities that can be created with later stage evolutions of technology and business as well as looking at the start from scratch approaches.

Fall Engineering Leadership Program Update

News: UC Berkeley is growing the Engineering Leadership Program (ELPP).  For the first time after 4 years we have opened a fall section.   The program is now full, however we are maintaining a waiting list.  We welcome this year’s new firms: Box, Juniper, Cloudera, GE, Ericsson, Altera, Kaiser Permanente, VW, Mentor Graphics, Synopsys, and Pivitol.  Participants from new firms will join the program with engineering leaders from Google, Yahoo!, Samsung, VMware, Lam Research, SanDisk, NetApp, Qualcomm, Cisco and Applied Materials.

Rejuvenating Innovation at Berkeley

Reposted from the June 2014 Dean’s message in Innovations online.  Also Congrats to Imprint Energy which just secured a $6M Series A round.


By Shankar Sastry, Dean, College of Engineering, UC Berkeley

Conventional wisdom has it that entrepreneurs are born that way. At Berkeley, however, we thrive on proving conventional wisdom wrong. After almost a decade of teaching entrepreneurship in Berkeley Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (CET), Ikhlaq Sidhu, Ken Singer, our talented industry faculty and our hard-working staff have demonstrated that indeed, entrepreneurship can be learned, and that Berkeley can teach it.

Since it opened in 2005, CET has launched numerous student-created ventures and trained over 3,000 Berkeley undergraduates using a one-of-a-kind teaching model, the “Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship.”

The Berkeley Method, co-developed by IEOR professor Ikhlaq Sidhu, CET’s chief scientist and founding director, and Ken Singer, CET’s managing director, uses games and exercises to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in students while offering the tactics and infrastructure to support the process of creating a new venture (see CET’s curriculum page).

Throughout, CET has offered an educational pathway for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators. Along with the A. Richard Newton lecture series, CET offers innovative course models like “challenge labs” for mobile applications, big data, social entrepreneurship and other areas. We also offer the Venture Lab to incubate nascent projects, and the new SkyDeck accelerator for more polished firms that are launch-ready.

The 3-D printing startup Twindom, for example, began as a CET class project and then took form in Venture Lab and SkyDeck. Twindom generates lifelike ceramic figurines from photographs and has already attracted $400,000 from Tim Draper and other investors.

Other CET-launched firms include Mixbook, inDinero, Imprint Energy, CellAsic, AdsNative and Eko. Thousands of CET alumni have become integral members of the ecosystem of new ventures and innovation leadership in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What is next for technology entrepreneurship at Berkeley? In 2015, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of CET, as we grow CET to support ever more Berkeley students. IEOR department chair Phil Kaminsky will join the leadership team in the role of faculty director, helping to strengthen CET’s connection with its home department, IEOR. Working with Ikhlaq and Ken, Phil will also lead the development of a new minor in entrepreneurship and technology and strengthen ties with our new Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation.

We are really excited to see CET begin its second decade of nurturing entrepreneurs who share a globally aware, socially committed approach to technology innovation – as you would expect at Berkeley. If you would like to get involved, just let us know.

S. Shankar Sastry
Dean and Carlson Professor of Engineering
Director, Blum Center for Developing Economies
Email Dean Sastry