Berkeley Catalyst Philanthropic Fund

Berkeley Catalyst Fund Logo

The Berkeley Catalyst Fund, and the Berkeley Catalyst Philanthropic Fund, provide benefits to entrepreneurial startups and the College of Chemistry. The funds work hand in hand to foster commercialization of new technologies from faculty, postdocs, students, and alumni in a hybrid model that channels investment returns back to the College of Chemistry.

Gifts to the Berkeley Catalyst Philanthropic Fund are a way for alumni and donors to help Cal entrepreneurs:

  • Donations can be in any amount, are 100% tax deductible, and are included in your annual total giving to the University;
  • Donations are financially managed by the UC Berkeley Foundation via a special limited partnership;
  • Donations are used to foster entrepreneurial teams and activities on campus, before teams become new companies;
  • Donations are aggregated and invested into the Berkeley Catalyst Fund, a for-profit venture capital fund that is a separate entity from the University. This for-profit fund invests in new startups and shares returns with the College of Chemistry via the UC Berkeley Foundation; and
  • Alumni and donors can connect with newly formed teams and companies to offer their industry and business expertise.

Members of the Berkeley Catalyst Fund and UC Berkeley at an event

(l to r) Camille Olufson, Laura Smoliar, Douglas Clark, Ted Hou: Members of the Berkeley Catalyst Fund and UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry.

The Berkeley Catalyst Fund is managed by three founding partners which include Dr. Laura Smoliar (UCB Ph.D., Chemistry, with Yuan T. Lee), Dr. Ted Hou (UCB Ph.D., Chemistry, with Yuan T. Lee), and Mr. Drew Lanza (retired from Morgenthaler Ventures). Mr. Michael Phillips (UCB, Boalt Hall School of Law), who recently retired from Morrison and Foerster, has recently joined as legal advisor.

In addition to the special limited partner relationship with the UC Berkeley Foundation, the Berkeley Catalyst Fund has a legal agreement with the University. It is the first fund at Berkeley to operate under this hybrid model. The model is now under adoption by other units across the UC system.

The Berkeley Catalyst Fund has started making investments, and is working closely to foster the vibrant startup ecosystem around UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC San Francisco, associated incubators and accelerators, and alumni throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The sector focus of the fund is biopharma, agriculture, medical device, clean air, clean water, energy storage, and sensors. The stage is primarily Seed and Series A.

“We are grateful for our 'Champion Dean', Douglas S. Clark, and his staff, who assisted us through the complex process of establishing a new kind of investment fund at the University.” Laura and Ted state. “The fund is thriving today due to this relationship.”

Please consider a donation to this very important fund. Use the link in the right hand column to start your donation. I make this gift with the full understanding that all investments by nature, are subject to gain or loss including loss of principal.