View from inside Intel Labs Berkeley, which is being converted to the Skydeck Innovation Center. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The Skydeck Innovation Center, planned for the top floor of the tallest building in Berkeley, received a $50,000 grant from the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund this week. The Skydeck, a project of the Berkeley Startup Cluster (BSC), will be a 10,000 sq. ft. incubator for fledgling technology companies. The grant was the largest award in the $260,000 distributed by the university fund for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

“The grant will enable us to operationalize the innovation center,” said Michael Cohen, director of the university’s Innovation Ecosystem Development and chairperson of BSC. Cohen said the Skydeck should be open for startups by the end of September.

The space at the top of the former Powerbar building in downtown Berkeley is currently occupied by Intel Labs Berkeley. Cohen said that Intel is doing a lot of work to leave the space in good shape for the Skydeck, so an exact date for opening is still uncertain.

At its peak, the Intel Lab housed 45 staff. Cohen said that the Skydeck will have room for up to 60 workers, which could mean as many as 30 startups fill the space.

“One of the issues is how to allocate space among spinouts from the business school, the engineering school and LBNL,” Cohen said. “I can’t say how much space will be available to local startups that are unaffiliated to the university or the Lab. But the key thing is that the Skydeck is going to evolve. We hope to have a whole ecosystem based around it.”

Cohen said the Skydeck would bring together technology veterans, entrepreneurs in residence, venture capitalists and other support for the startups that will be based there.

The Skydeck will join a growing number of facilities in Berkeley designed to foster startups, including The Hub and the Berkeley Entrepreneurship Laboratory.

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

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  1. translation: “Intel was bugging out but we nevertheless found a way to lease-bank this premium space on taxpayer dimes.”

  2. “The grant will enable us to operationalize the innovation center,”

    If I am enabled to comprehendize that verbalization, he is saying:

    “The grant will let us operate the innovation center.”

  3. I worked in that space for almost the entire decade of the 90s, and I can testify to stunning views, a great working environment,  and the embedded good karma of at least one techie startup (Risk Management Technologies) that was sold to a larger company for way too much money.   Mazel tov, Skydeck, and let’s hope for many more successes.