Message from the Director: Fall, 2014
FALL 2014 -- In this issue of the Berkeley Transportation Letter we are sharing some recent news on entrepreneurship and startups. Since its inception, ITS has been a home for innovation and entrepreneurship. In the last several decades, numerous startups, small businesses and consulting firms have been forged from ITS connections. They have contributed to the economies of California and the U.S. while improving advanced transportation. Our efforts fit especially well within the University of California’s mission, where a recently announced initiative, UC Ventures, will provide an independent fund to pursue investments in UC research-fueled enterprises.
“In addition to any financial benefits, we see this fund as a potential vehicle for providing resources to support the basic research and talent — among both faculty and students — required to develop innovations that can benefit California and the world,” said UC President Janet Napolitano.
One of the Institute’s early success stories is Sensys Networks, which has established itself in recent years as the premier company for next generation traffic monitoring infrastructure in the world. The company’s success illustrates how ITS faculty, staff and students together successfully migrated technology to the private sector. More recently, the very visible Automatic transitioned directly from ITS to the Y-Combinator, the flagship incubator of Silicon Valley, as a prelude to a very visible launch and growth. There are many such success stories, and we describe a variety of them in this issue of BTL.
I am also pleased to announce that ITS and France’s École Polytechnique recently signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in the presence of École Polytechnique President Jacques Biot to grow a recently launched entrepreneurship program, now in its second year. The program hosts between 20 and 30 students from Europe each year to teach them entrepreneurship through the ITS Technology Transfer Program. Most of the students come to the program with an idea or a company in mind. After a few months of training, they have the tools and knowledge to determine their idea’s success. One of those ideas, Vatler, has come to fruition and is described in our lead article on entrepreneurship.
This issue of BTL also highlights a unique research arrangement with the Hyundai Motor Group, the fourth largest automobile manufacturer in the world. UC Berkeley’s strong history as the world’s preeminent institution in the control and optimization of dynamic systems, combined with the university’s Vehicle Dynamics and Control Lab led to the creation of the Hyundai Center of Excellence, now in its second year. The Berkeley Transportation Letter looks at how university graduate students and research engineers are using a vehicle provided by Hyundai in a project aimed at developing innovative designs to improve safety and performance.
In the next weeks, watch for more news on our website and Facebook page. News stories there will give our community a snapshot of the wealth of creativity, technology disruption and energy coming out of ITS.