Accelerator Chip Track wants to bring silicon back to Silicon Valley

October 22, 2018 // By Julien Happich
Accelerator Chip Track wants to bring silicon back to Silicon Valley
UC Berkeley SkyDeck, the premier startup accelerator of the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), is leading a resurgence of semiconductor innovation by introducing a new Chip Track at the Berkeley SkyDeck startup accelerator.

Starting with the first cohort of 2019, startups focused on semiconductor design and other related technologies will be offered the dedicated resources necessary to help them achieve their goals, including expertise from key scientific and industry advisors.

As part of the SkyDeck program, IC design tool company Cadence; independent semiconductor foundry TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co) and processor cores provider SiFive are collaborating to support SkyDeck’s plans for the design environment of the new Chip Track.

Over the past two decades, Silicon Valley has become increasingly focused on software and business model innovation, while startups in the semiconductor industry have struggled to gain traction and raise early stage venture funding.

The greatest challenge semiconductor startups face today is the high initial cost involved with prototyping new chip designs. Without functioning prototypes and firm customer commitments, founders in the semiconductor space can often struggle to attract initial funding.

By participating in the 12-month long Chip Track, startups developing chips for applications ranging from machine learning to computer vision, from high-performance data centres to low-power embedded IoT, will receive $100k in investment from the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund and access to a variety of resources from industry collaborators. For founders, this could be an opportunity to materialize their initial design in silicon, and even take their product to market before having to raise outside funding.

The unique service offerings and technical expertise from these industry companies are not available to these founders anywhere else. “The real-world industry guidance of these collaborators coupled with the top engineers and professors from UC Berkeley’s academic ecosystem will provide chip companies with a unique opportunity to excel, thrive and make deep connections to help them develop extraordinary technology that could change the world,” said Caroline Winnett, Executive Director, Berkeley SkyDeck.

“This new program will help bring the silicon back to Silicon Valley,” said Chon Tang, managing director, Berkeley SkyDeck Fund. “By collaborating with key industry leaders like Cadence, TSMC and SiFive, and with the long history of Berkeley’s research labs and alumni responsible for many of the semiconductor companies which defined this space, Berkeley SkyDeck is going to enable a new generation of semiconductor startup founders.”

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