The UC Berkeley Skydeck, a startup accelerator, is soaring to new heights with the appointment of a new full-time executive director and a busy lineup of fall events, including an open house and a hackathon.
Jeff Burton, a member of the founding team of video game maker Electronic Arts, was named Skydeck's executive director this summer. Throughout his more than 30-year career in the startup world, Burton has served as a founder, CEO, and owner of a variety of consumer-facing software technology companies. At Electronic Arts, he was responsible for the company's early entry and success in international markets.
“We are excited to have Jeff working hands on with our entrepreneurs as well as helping turn Skydeck into a focal point of education and connection for UC Berkeley startups," says Lester Center Executive Director Andre Marquis. "He has a tremendous network, great experience, and has been helping Cal founders for years.”
Burton is looking forward to fostering a community of UC Berkeley–affiliated entrepreneurs in order to help drive the creation of successful, scalable startup companies. Burton will work with the Lester Center and its Skydeck partners─the College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology and the UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Research’s Office─to help run campus and community events, scale the mentor network for the Skydeck teams and other UC Berkeley-affiliated startups, and build UC Berkeley’s entrepreneurial community. (Skydeck also was created with support from the City of Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.)
“Developing the world’s leading business startup ecosystem is certainly within reach, given the preeminence in the world of UC Berkeley’s research resources,” says Burton. “It is truly inspirational. The students, faculty, and broader community deserve credit for enabling a place like Skydeck, and my mission is to spotlight the exceptional talent we have here.”
Burton already has begun working with the 13 startup teams who have taken up residence at Skydeck, located on the top floor of the highest building in downtown Berkeley. In addition, he will be meeting members of UC Berkeley's entrepreneurial community at an invitation-only open house Oct. 18 at Skydeck.
In September, meanwhile, Skydeck with be buzzing with activity from another corner of the entrepreneurial community. On Sept. 21 and Sept. 22, Skydeck will host Hacking Health, UC Berkeley's digital health hackathon. For the second year in a row, professionals and students of all stripes─developers, designers, entrepreneurs, health experts, and clinicians—from UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and the Bay Area community will come together to design, build, and pitch digital health innovations in 24 hours or less.
Solutions from last year's event spanned personalized health forecasting, mobile therapeutics, chronic disease online communities, and concierge medical tourism. Participants have gone on to be funded by Rock Health and Y Combinator and receive recognition throughout the digital health ecosystem.