The University of California says it will be investing $250 million in startups “emerging from the University of California system.” The investment will be part of a fund focused on students, professors and alumni of the 10 UC schools, with a particular emphasis on startups in the life sciences, technology, energy, agriculture and materials sectors.
The investing team will be led by Vivek Ranadive, an entrepreneur and owner of the Sacramento Kings.
“I look forward to supporting fellow entrepreneurs and growing innovative, value-driven enterprises with a mission to advance our society and make the world a better place,” said Ranadive, in a statement.
Ranadive, who invests alongside celebrities including Shaq and Drake, told TechCrunch that “we live in a world where technology, sports, entertainment, media…are all blending together.” He also pointed out that stars tweeting about startups can save money on marketing.
With campuses throughout the state of California, including Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego, the UC system is known for having some of the nation’s top public universities. (Full disclosure: I got my undergraduate degrees at UC San Diego).
The University of California has been granted more patents than any other university in the world and has over 30 accelerators and incubators. More than 800 startups with UC patents have been founded since 1980.
“This venture will support the research and entrepreneurship of UC faculty and student researchers whose discoveries can benefit people throughout California, the nation and the world,” UC President Janet Napolitano said, in a statement.
The fund will not take money from tuition or the state. In addition to the $250 million lead investment from the UC Investments office, Ranadive and other third party investors will also participate in the fund. UC Investments has about $100 billion in its investment portfolio, including a pension fund, an endowment and other capital pools.
“To me it doesn’t get any smarter than UC,” said Ranadive.