Lyons named Berkeley’s first chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer

Rich Lyons looking at the camera

Rich Lyons, a former dean of the Berkeley Haas School of Business, will be UC Berkeley’s new innovation chief. (UC Berkeley photo by Noah Berger)

The University of California, Berkeley, has named celebrated former Haas School of Business Dean Rich Lyons as the campus’s first chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer (CIEO). Lyons will be tasked with building out and championing Berkeley’s rich portfolio of innovation and entrepreneurship activities to the benefit of students, faculty, staff, startups and external partners. He begins his term Jan. 1, 2020.

The creation of the job was one of several recommendations to come from the “Entrepreneurship at Berkeley” report — a year-long study commissioned by former Vice Chancellor for Research Paul Alivisatos to examine how UC Berkeley’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem could better serve its community.

Lyons will work with campus partners to set a strategic focus for Berkeley’s innovation and entrepreneurship pipeline, foster entrepreneurship among the campus’s diverse constituencies, provide direction for work related to Berkeley’s intellectual property and coordinate activities in support of entrepreneurship among the schools, colleges, institutes and groups.

“This is a game changer for Berkeley,” says Vice Chancellor for Research Randy Katz, to whom Lyons will report. “Rich is a visionary and an evangelist in all things innovation and entrepreneurship. He is the one person who can simultaneously raise our external visibility, while accelerating how we embed innovation and entrepreneurship in our institutional DNA. I am thrilled he has accepted this key leadership role.”

A Berkeley Haas graduate who returned to campus as a professor of economics and finance in 1993, Lyons served as dean of Berkeley’s top-rated business school from 2008 to 2018. As dean, he initiated an effort to define the school’s culture and guiding principles, shepherded the construction of a state-of-the-art new academic building and oversaw the creation of several new degree programs.

Among his accomplishments, Lyons helped launch the Management, Entrepreneurship & Technology (M.E.T.) dual-degree program, in partnership with the College of Engineering, initiated the Bio-Business dual degree linking Berkeley Haas with the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and revitalized the Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship Program.

In collaboration with leadership in the Office of Research and the College of Engineering, Lyons was instrumental in launching the Berkeley SkyDeck startup accelerator in 2012 and served on its governing board while dean at Berkeley Haas.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to work together with the whole campus,” Lyons says. “At the top level, the role is really about how we transform Berkeley’s vast intellectual creativity into benefit to society. If we can improve that by even 10 percent, we will have achieved a great deal together.”

UC Berkeley and the campus community have a long legacy of developing groundbreaking products, founding companies and creating entirely new industries. Berkeley students, professors and alumni have founded more than 2,000 companies, including household names such as Intel, Apple, Tesla, Gap, AIG and Autodesk. In May 2019, Crunchbase ranked Berkeley the world’s top public school for business and tech startups that attract early stage funding.

”Rich is highly respected in the business and policy worlds and has broad connections in Silicon Valley and beyond,” says Carol Mimura, assistant vice chancellor for Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA). “Drawing on his multiple talents — as a convener, fundraiser and an inclusive leader — Rich will propel Berkeley’s innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives to new heights and in new directions.”

Caroline Winnett, executive director of Berkeley SkyDeck, says “Rich is a visionary leader who ignites cultural and organizational transformation. Berkeley has always been a global epicenter for disruptive new thinking and innovation in all its forms, and Rich will lead the campus toward an even stronger culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. Startup founders will find at Berkeley a powerful commitment by campus to help them launch their world-changing ideas and discoveries.”

Lyons will fulfill a teaching commitment during the fall 2019 semester, but has agreed to move into a part-time, transitional role as faculty assistant to the vice chancellor for research for innovation and entrepreneurship, effective now through Dec. 31, 2019. In this role, he will be reaching out to campus and external stakeholders to begin conversations and initiate partnerships that he will continue developing when he assumes the role of CIEO on Jan. 1.