The city of Berkeley has, in recent years, been working to make the community a better place for technological innovation via efforts to fight “brain drain,” make it easier to find office space, and create connections among its more than 300 startups to strengthen the “fabric of the innovation ecosystem,” city staff told council members during a special session last week.
We recently moved our four-person software startup from the Mission district of San Francisco to downtown Berkeley. It’s been a fantastic change and, upon further reflection, I believe there are three mains reasons many will follow us.
Berkeley expects to get $12.7 million in grant funding for changes to BART Plaza, Shattuck Avenue and Hearst Street that should make life easier for people using the Downtown BART station and buses, biking to campus and even just driving through the center of town.
Last night, Berkeley hosted the inaugural Innovate@Berkeley, possibly the city’s largest entrepreneurship event to date. Held at the Hotel Shattuck in downtown, the gathering attracted hundreds of attendees and included a keynote address by tech entrepreneur and academic Vivek Wadhwa, a startup expo, and a pitch competition. Sylvia Paull has this report:
John DeClercq will step down as joint-CEO of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce at the end of this month after 18 months in the job. Polly Armstrong, with whom he shares leadership responsibilities, will continue to head up the local business organization solo, most likely on a part-time basis.
By Hannah Long
On Wednesday night at the Freight & Salvage, the Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum will hold its first Berkeley event. In honor of Women’s History Month, the event will feature five women pitching their business ideas to an all-women panel of judges.
What makes a city a magnet for startups? Why do entrepreneurs and financiers flock to the South Bay even though there are so few good places to eat there? Does Berkeley want to be Silicon Valley anyway? (You can guess the answer to that one.) Maybe Berkeley is just not hip enough to attract young talent? Does the city’s red tape makes it too cumbersome to be innovative? And, perhaps most significantly, is there just too much distrust of businesses as they thrive and grow? Perhaps Berkeley should focus on what it already does well: incubating startups then allowing them to fly to pastures new, be that San Francisco or Palo Alto.
Tickets for tonight’s Startup Berkeley Forum at the Freight & Salvage can still be bought through Brown Paper Tickets until 3:00pm today, or they can be purchased on the door.
Fittingly, on a day when Berkeleyside is holding its Startup Berkeley Forum, a startup is making its debut on the UC Berkeley campus — and students who own cars are set to benefit.