A new UC Berkeley educational program designed to introduce students from around the world to Silicon Valley’s unique success in innovation and entrepreneurship took another step forward last week.
ITS Director Alex Bayen (L) and Ecole Polytechnique Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Research Frank Pacard sign the Memorandum of Cooperation.
A delegation led by President Jacques Biot from the École Polytechnique, the elite French engineering school known for its extremely competitive science and engineering program, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with UC Berkeley on September 9.
The MoC establishes a partnership between UC Berkeley and the famous French school, founded in 1794, for the purpose of exposing some of the brightest French students to the startup culture of Silicon Valley through UC Berkeley’s new “Silicon Valley Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program.”
“We are extremely glad to cooperate with UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies in this highly strategic field of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Frank Pacard, Vice-President for Academic Affairs at École polytechnique. “This is not only a unique opportunity for our students but also a key for the development of further collaborations between our two institutions.”
The semester-long program, which debuted last fall with 17 École Polytechnique students, is focused on both a curriculum of study with UC Berkeley faculty from Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology as well as field work, which includes visiting Bay Area technology start-ups, incubators, venture capitalists, and laboratories in order to better understand the many aspects of the start-up culture of Silicon Valley.
The program is offered through the Institute of Transportation Studies’ Technology Transfer Program, which has provided professional training in transportation subjects to the state of California for over 50 years, and has the necessary experience to develop curriculum, engage appropriate faculty, and deliver the program.
The master-level French students come for a semester as visiting scholars, then return to their universities to continue their studies.
This fall, the program has grown to 27 students from not only École Polytechnique but three additional highly-regarded French educational institutions: École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales (ESSEC), École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Lyon (ENSA), and École Centrale Paris (ECP).
“We anticipate the program will grow to include students from institutions in other parts of Europe and the world in the next few years,” said ITS Director Alexandre Bayen. “There is a lot of excitement at Berkeley about this program. We see successful startups emerging both in France and in the US after only the first year. Indeed, some alums of this program recently launched Vatler, now part of the Y-Combinator in Silicon Valley and prynt, a France-based company which transforms an iPhone into a polaroid camera capable of printing photos on the spot.”
During their day-long visit to UC Berkeley, Jacques Biot, whose position as president of École Polytechnique is similar to that of chancellor, and Frank Pacard met with a number of Berkeley faculty and administrators, including Shankar Sastry, Dean of the College of Engineering, G. Steven Martin, Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences of the College of Letters and Science, Chris McKee, Interim Dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences in the College of Letters and Science, and Rosemary Joyce, Interim Dean of the Graduate Division.
The MoC was signed during a luncheon on the campus that included not only faculty and administrators, but new students in the program, as well as UC Berkeley alumni who attended École Polytechnique.