Faculty and alumni win $5M energy-efficiency grant
Prof. Catherine Wolfram
When Boaz Ur, MBA 09, began working on business development for Lightapp Technologies, an Israeli startup focused on energy efficiency for industrial facilities, he reached out to his former professor, Catherine Wolfram, about a possible collaboration. It was good timing. Wolfram was looking to design a real-world study for the E2e Project, an energy-efficiency research initiative she leads with MIT and the University of Chicago. She needed a big-data scenario to investigate what motivates businesses to conserve, and Lightapp’s software, which gathers and analyzes data from low-cost sensors deployed throughout a factory, would provide it. They collaborated with members of the Haas alumni network (see below) to write a research proposal that won a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission this spring. The funds will be used to test whether advanced energy monitoring at 100 California factories saves them money and reduces their emissions.
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What happens when Scott Adams, MBA 86, visits Berkeley’s startup accelerator SkyDeck? He gets inspired. Also, check out Adams’ Berkeley Startups Review blog: scottadams-startupreview.tumblr.com.
Alumna aims to upset Stanford
Rebecca Lynn, MBA/JD 08
When it comes to undergrad programs producing VC-backed founders, Stanford and UC Berkeley are #1 and #2 respectively. According to research firm PitchBook, Berkeley raised $2.4 billion between 2009 and 2014, and Stanford raised $3.5 billion.
That doesn’t sit well with alumna Rebecca Lynn, MBA/JD 08, general partner at Canvas Venture Fund. In April, she helped gather 150 fellow Cal alumni for a rally of sorts to support emerging Berkeley Haas entrepreneurs. “We have a challenge … to make Berkeley the number one school for entrepreneurship in the very near future,” Lynn said, per the San Francisco Business Times. “That gap is not that big. I think we can take ’em.”
Three alumnae honored for Silicon Valley work
Anita Gardyne, MBA 88/Photo courtesy the Startup Conference
Anita Gardyne, BA 86 (Economics), MBA 88, is on a roll. In May, Oneva, the company she co-founded with her husband, won best startup of Silicon Valley at the 2015 Startup Conference in Redwood City. Oneva is a concierge care service delivering trained, certified caregivers and service providers—all of whom have passed FBI background checks—to clients in the Bay Area. Gardyne competed with more than a hundred others for the award. That same month, Oneva was among 45 companies participating in Office Hours, an invitation-only event at the annual meeting of the National Venture Capital Association, marking it as a rising star in the entrepreneurship world. And, Gardyne was a Push Tech 2020 pitch competition finalist.
“It’s a great time to be a female entrepreneur,” Gardyne says. “I continue to meet fabulous people who are willing to jump in and help, men and women who seek to enhance the diversity of Silicon Valley and are leading the change.”
Two other alumnae were also lauded for their work by making the Silicon Valley Women of Influence list published by the Silicon Valley Business Journal: Anne Kennedy, MBA 91, operating principal at Keller Williams Realty, and Kira Makagon, BA 84 (Computer Science), MBA 96, executive VP of innovation at RingCentral.
New alum and brother help develop technology for those with special needs
Stanford Stickney, BS 15, and his brother Daniel
Recent Haas grad Stanford Stickney, BS 15, and his younger brother, Daniel, are quite the dynamic duo. Daniel, 21, has cerebral palsy and is visually impaired, and Stanford has always sought opportunities to expand Daniel’s potential. Together, they collaborated with the team that won the Big Ideas@Berkeley prize in May in the “Information Technology for Society” category.
Led by UC Berkeley undergrads Tomás Vega and Pierre Karashchuk with Stephen Frey, Kelly Peng, and John Naulty, the team won first place for creating an open-source, helmet-like device that allows thoughts to control a wheelchair. Stanford lent his business development skills as a team member, and Daniel tested the technology and provided feedback. Daniel currently measures 40 percent accuracy with the brain-computer interface in controlling his chair’s functions. “Learning to use the device is like learning a new language,” Stanford says. “As Daniel gets more proficient, it gets easier.”
Haas and Accenture create curriculum
Berkeley Haas Lecturer Greg La Blanc believes that big data might be the most significant change to hit the business world since the Industrial Revolution. “The only way for MBAs to really learn how to handle big data is to actually work with it and to interact with engineers and data scientists,” he says.
To that end, Haas has collaborated with Accenture to create new classes and a lecture series on big data. The relationship was sparked by Haas alum Marina Gracias, BS 80, MBA 99, managing director of financial services at Accenture. This spring, La Blanc taught Data Science/Data Strategy to grad students from Haas and across campus.
The class covered the role of data science in retail and supply chain management and offered frank discussions with leaders from Facebook, Cloudera, Safeway, Wells Fargo, Walmart Labs, and BlackRock. Haas will add a data analytics course this fall, crafted with Accenture.