Ikhlaq Sidhu (pictured above), the Fung Institute’s Chief Scientist and the founder and director of the Fung’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, has been working to address the need to develop business skills within the school’s engineering students.
The 3Com Corp. engineer-turned-professor last month joined early-stage VC firm Onset Ventures as a venture adviser. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm is known for the academic connections and big tech and healthcare company backgrounds of its partners. “My role at Berkeley has been to bring into our programs an understanding of entrepreneurship in a real way from actual people who do it every day,” says the India native. “I can bring what I know into Onset, but the real hands-on experience I have with the firm will also benefit the curriculum here.”
Sidhu, 46, was recruited in 2005 by Berkeley to start Cal’s entrepreneurship program after he founded a similar organization at his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. What Sidhu helped create at Berkeley has become one of a handful of top entrepreneurial university programs in the U.S., including Stanford University’s Stanford Technology Ventures Program, which is chaired by Tom Byers, brother of famed VC Brook Byers; Georgia Institute of Technology’s Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results, or Tiger, run by Marie Thursby; and similar organizations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.
The Berkeley program is taught largely through case studies, but Sidhu brings in executives and engineers from companies around the Valley to breathe life into the lessons. He also infuses the curriculum with his career experience.
Among the successful ventures that have sprung from Sidhu’s program at Berkeley is six-year-old Rapleaf Inc., whose technology helps businesses understand consumers’ Internet usage. The San Francisco company’s founders, Auren Hoffman and Manish Shah, met while working on a project at the Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology.