UC Berkeley honored for stoking Bay Area innovation, economic growth

The East Bay Economic Development Alliance has named UC Berkeley the 2016 Legacy Award honoree for its leadership in powering innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth in the Bay Area.

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“Berkeley plays a pivotal role in the Bay Area’s innovation ecosystem,” says Darien Louie, executive director of the alliance. “Many of the companies we’ve recognized for innovation have their roots at UC Berkeley.”

More than 2,600 firms worldwide are Berkeley spinoffs — more than half of them in the Bay Area — and have created more than 540,000 jobs and generated global revenues of more than $317 billion, according to a 2014 Bay Area Economic Institute study.

In 2014, UC President Janet Napolitano formed the UC Innovation Council, made up of investment and business executives, venture capitalists and technology experts, to guide the campus’s efforts in technology commercialization. “The technology and companies incubated at UC have a direct and critical impact on the state’s economic growth,” Napolitano said. “Our continued support is integral to our university’s public mission.”

A host of software firms, from SalesForce to PeopleSoft, trace their origins to Berkeley. Internet search engines, cleantech innovations, cybersecurity and mobile microscopy all emerged from the campus. And Berkeley has been instrumental in the biotech boom — the campus has founded a slew of companies, from Chiron to Redwood Biosciences to this year’s Innovation honoree Caribou Biosciences, which emerged from biochemist Jennifer Doudna’s CRISPR-Cas9 lab.

The campus is also home to an array of incubators and accelerators to help turn ideas into successful business ventures, from the Haas Innovation Lab, which helps train entrepreneurial business leaders, to SkyDeck, which works with startups to accelerate the process of turning commercialized discoveries to market.

Read more about Berkeley’s lasting impact on the culture of innovation in the Bay Area at the San Francisco Business Times.