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SkyDeck reaches $24m fundraising heights

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Date: 2018-02-25 22:37:30

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SkyDeck, the accelerator of University of California (UC) Berkeley, closed a $24m oversubscribed fund on Friday with commitments from VC firms Sequoia Capital and Mayfair Venture Capital.

E-commerce group Alibaba and assorted alumni, through various investment vehicles, also provided capital to the fund that had an original target size of $10m, according to Axios. The fund follows news on Friday that the Berkeley-affiliated House Fund is seeking to raise a $50m vehicle.

The Berkeley SkyDeck Fund has an exclusive license with the university to invest in SkyDeck’s cohort and emerged with a portfolio of 16 companies – all the members of the accelerator’s current cohort that each received $100,000 in return for a 5% equity stake.

Led by Chon Tang, the fund will donate half of its profit back to UC Berkeley to support research, education and entrepreneurship.

The SkyDeck accelerator was formed as a partnership between the university’s Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research to drive the commercialisation of research at the institution.

Caroline Winnett, executive director of SkyDeck, said: “UC Berkeley always looks to serve the greater good and SkyDeck is supporting startups that are solving the world’s biggest problems.

“The fund brings more startups, investors, and innovation to Berkeley, because they can see that the university is enthusiastically supporting entrepreneurs.”

The 16 inaugural portfolio companies include:

  • 2Hz, which has developed technology to remove background noise from real-time conversations without impacting on speech;
  • Awakens, a genomic company that has created a platform for users to connect to apps personalised by their DNA;
  • BioXplor, a virtual drug discovery platform;
  • Bitbutter, which allows developers to integrate cryptocurrency features into fintech products;
  • InkSpace Imaging, which has developed a manufacturing process for printed electronics that can be used to make lightweight, flexible coils for magnetic resonance imaging scanners;
  • Intento, which directs requests for machine learning services to the provider most suitable for the task at hand;
  • Keyword Hero, a data science company that integrates organic keywords into Google Analytics;
  • Kiwi Campus, a producer of robots for food delivery;
  • May & Meadow, a digital health technology developer that uses sensors to monitor newborn babies and allows mothers and medical staff to access the data;
  • MindsDB, which has developed artificial intelligence (AI) technology to answer predictive questions from an existing enterprise database;
  • Nextbiotics, a biotechnology platform that genetically engineers viruses to target diseases;
  • Orca, which has developed an AI-based salesperson that automatically identifies leads by crawling social media posts;
  • Peregrine Biotechnology, which is working to improve animal health in agriculture and remains in stealth mode;
  • SkyAlert, which has developed technology to offer faster and more accurate predictions of earthquakes;
  • Sublime Therapeutics, a biotechnology developer focused on gastrointestinal, pancreatic and neuroendocrine cancers as well as gastrointestinal premalignant conditions such as Barrett’s Oesophagus, which can lead to cancer; and
  • Super Carbon, which is working on a high-density graphene supercapacitor that would reduce the amount of time it takes to charge electric cars to under 10 seconds.

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