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skydeckllc.com

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1

About Skydeck

Skydeck is a private investment firm investing capital on behalf of the Polsky family. Skydeck targets direct investments in lower-middle market companies in majority or minority equity positions. Additionally, Skydeck invests in opportunistic and income producing real property with experienced operators.

Skydeck Headquarter Location

1 S. Wacker Dr Ste 1810

Chicago, Illinois, 60606,

United States

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Latest Skydeck News

How Academia Can Be A Leader In Entrepreneurship: Interview With UC Berkeley’s Chief Innovation & Entrepreneurship Officer Dr. Rich Lyons

Nov 23, 2021

Entrepreneurship is the backbone of the innovation engine in the United States. For example, the creation of the internet and smartphone uplifted the national economy forever. In addition, universities like UC Berkeley have played a crucial role in incubating new technologies for the benefit of society. UC Berkeley is driving a creative, new way to cultivate entrepreneurship in a multi-disciplinary manner. Their unique approach that converges multiple sciences and business streams together fosters the diversity of thoughts. I was curious about this integrated entrepreneurship approach to building new ventures and whether such an interdisciplinary collaboration can create startups with a greater impact on society. So, I interviewed UC Berkeley’s Chief Innovation and Entrepreneurship Officer, Dr. Rich Lyons, to research these questions. Dr. Lyons is a Professor of Economics and Finance at the Haas School of Business, where he served as dean from 2008 to 2018 and acting dean from 2004 to 2005. Here is my article based on my interview with Dr. Lyons. Dr. Lyons started by outlining how attracting human capital worldwide has been at the core of the innovation process at US research institutions. So, at a macro level, for innovation to continue at these institutions like Berkeley, they have to continue to attract this talent. The university, located in the Silicon Valley area, utilizes its geographical advantage to attract talent and provide them with the right resources. But an even more intriguing aspect is how Berkeley has created a unique entrepreneurship mindset for startups to develop emerging technologies on campus. Baker BioEnginuity Hub (BBH) is a prime example of a resource offered by the University to usher in the new mindset. "BBH is still relatively new," states Dr. Lyons. "There are lots of incubators and accelerators, but it is unlike anything that Berkeley has ever done before and is something very large. It [has] lots of scientific and lab space. It will house [approximately] 80 startups. BBH reflects the convergence between life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, material sciences, and computer sciences. It’s very much an incubator for convergence research, and it’s not just [a space for] exploratory or basic research. It’s applied research. BBH also provides the much-needed final-stage scientific hypothesis testing that startups need before going to market.” So, while providing scientific resources that are typically hard to find, this space is effectively designed to promote challenging discussions about hard-hitting topics like carbon footprint and climate change. Dr. Lyons touched upon a critical aspect of academic innovation that often hinders technology transfer to industry—Intellectual Property (IP) ownership. The startups own all the IP developed under BBH—a key reason why top innovators view BBH as a haven. Such a new mechanism removes any friction for startups to get involved with universities and fulfills Berkeley's mission of creating innovation for benefiting society. MORE FOR YOU Given the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in many sectors, I was curious how AI plays a role in startup culture at Berkeley. Dr. Lyons explained how AI and Data Science are getting embedded into research in most modern universities, including Berkeley. He explained that AI and Data Science are being applied to several fields at Berkeley, such as gene-editing using Nobel-prize-winning technology CRISPR. Recognizing the rising importance of AI and Data Science, Berkeley has embarked upon the largest change in its department and school structure in the last two decades to create a new division called Computing, Data Science, and Society (CDSS). It involved moving faculty and departments around, a non-trivial endeavor at universities. In addition, the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research (BAIR) Lab allows students to use its cutting-edge AI applications across multiple platforms with corporate support. It is also open to startups for equity-based membership, allowing Berkeley to participate in non-linear wealth and job creation—an exciting new step for the University. An impact entrepreneurship opportunity provided to students is the Big Ideas accelerator, which brings teams together to develop and test ideas for social good. It is a parallel accelerator to its for-profit counterparts. It has grown from a Berkeley platform to an accelerator at a University of California system level, encompassing ten campuses. "There isn’t very much that can get done anywhere without funding," reiterates Lyons. "Increasingly, companies are doing less research in-house, and they’re partnering with modern research universities. We call them industrial research alliances. We have a lot of corporate partnering around research and an awful lot of venture funding. One of the transitions we have seen in the last 5-10 years [is that] more venture funds want to dedicate themselves to Berkeley and go deep into its ecosystem." Hence, Dr. Lyons has created a new category of venture capital funds—shared-carry funds—in which half of the carried interest (Venture Capital term for profit) will go to Berkeley. So, in addition to the initial capital investment into startups, Berkeley gets carried interest in 10-12 years. Next, I switched gears to understanding how Covid-19 has created new opportunities for Berkeley. With the pandemic, Berkeley created a pivot with its Skydeck platform by taking it online. What seemed like a risk has paid out by expanding the global potential of Skydeck via online platforms. "Skydeck is the main start-up accelerator on campus," says Dr. Lyons. "Part of the acceleration process involves bringing in advisors or experts in a field or a given industry. We used to deliver that advisory expertise and workshops and other things to accelerator companies in person. But can you do acceleration remotely? Well, we ran the accelerator for the last year and a half and ran it completely remotely, and the companies are still wanting in. It’s been terrifically successful. All of these workshops are on super spikey topics like organizational culture. So now we are thinking, can we expand the geographic scope of how Skydeck works?" I wanted to understand how other Universities can learn from Berkeley on spurring entrepreneurship on campus. Dr. Lyons first pointed out that the learning bridge is two-way. Next, he gave an example of a new effort being built on the Berkeley campus: Research Infrastructure Commons (RIC). RIC uses the shared economy concept to provide access to campus research facilities and services, including scientific instrumentation like DNA sequencers or mass spectrometers, to startups. RIC provides a menu card of sorts listing the available equipment with the associated fee-for-service. RIC is becoming the AWS for deep tech startups, along with easy electronic paperwork and streamlined IP ownership for the startup. The bigger vision of RIC is not just financial; instead, it is to enable startup permeability into Berkeley’s labs while expanding its ecosystem. From this interview, I learned how universities drive startup culture and collaboration with the industry, enabling them to play a leadership role in driving entrepreneurship for their regions. In addition, by creating novel iterative models like BBH, Big Ideas, and RIC, Berkeley is ushering in a new inter-disciplinary mindset and democratized operational access that can increase the pace of entrepreneurial innovation across the UC system. Follow me on  Twitter  or  LinkedIn . Check out my  website  or some of my other work  here .

Skydeck Investments

6 Investments

Skydeck has made 6 investments. Their latest investment was in DeepScribe as part of their Seed VC - II on May 5, 2021.

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Skydeck Investments Activity

investments chart

Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

5/13/2021

Seed VC - II

DeepScribe

$5.2M

Yes

3

5/7/2021

Seed VC

Subscribe to see more

$99M

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10

1/28/2021

Private Equity

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$99M

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10

10/1/2019

Series D - II

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$99M

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10

4/2/2019

Series B

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$99M

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10

Date

5/13/2021

5/7/2021

1/28/2021

10/1/2019

4/2/2019

Round

Seed VC - II

Seed VC

Private Equity

Series D - II

Series B

Company

DeepScribe

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Amount

$5.2M

$99M

$99M

$99M

$99M

New?

Yes

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Subscribe to see more

Co-Investors

Sources

3

10

10

10

10

Skydeck Portfolio Exits

1 Portfolio Exit

Skydeck has 1 portfolio exit. Their latest portfolio exit was Fast Radius on July 20, 2021.

Date

Exit

Companies

Valuation
Valuations are submitted by companies, mined from state filings or news, provided by VentureSource, or based on a comparables valuation model.

Acquirer

Sources

7/20/2021

Acq - Pending

$991

4

Date

7/20/2021

Exit

Acq - Pending

Companies

Valuation

$991

Acquirer

Sources

4

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