Startup presentations featured at SVLink Open House on June 18

UCSC's Silicon Valley startup incubator-accelerator is now fully subscribed

SVLink startups get access to office space and conference rooms, as well as business training for one year.

UC Santa Cruz’s effort to help launch the next Uber, Airbnb, or eBay is well under way.

Eighteen startup companies have enrolled with UCSC's new SVLink program, a startup incubator-accelerator located at the UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Campus. With an additional two startups set to join in July, the program is now fully subscribed.

SVLink is a one-year program that provides office space, business training, and mentoring to participants and connects them with investors. The majority of the startups must have a connection with UC Santa Cruz or other UC campuses to participate.

Those interested in learning more about SVLink are invited to attend an Open House on Tuesday, June 18, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the UCSC Silicon Valley Campus, 3175 Bowers Avenue, in Santa Clara. Startups enrolled in the program will give presentations on their businesses, which involve artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, the internet of things, distributed computing, and more.

“The vision for SVLink was to connect UC-wide innovation with the Valley to create opportunities for investment, commercialization, and economic growth, and we are successfully accomplishing that,” said Scott Brandt, vice chancellor for research at UC Santa Cruz.

SVLink is coordinated by U First Capital, a Santa Clara venture capital firm that works with leading corporations and universities.

“It takes a village to build a company—that’s the reality,” said Sanjit Dang, the chairman and co-founder of U First Capital. It can take a long time for start-ups to make connections with venture capitalists on their own, he said. “We cut through a lot of the process for them, so it brings tremendous value to the startup.”

Startups can participate in training events once or twice a month in which they can meet founders, experts, and investors in tech.

Dang said he is pleased with the quality of the startups at SVLink. “There’s a lot of potential to disrupt multiple industries and to bring value,” he said.

Among the participating startups is sndr, a new security platform that has the capability to annihilate any communication and content even after the content has been sent or forwarded. Nick Puro, the company’s chief financial officer, said SVLink gives his Orlando, Florida–based firm a much-needed presence in Silicon Valley. It is very difficult to make the needed connections to get a tech business going without a presence there, he said. Sndr was able to participate in SVLink because a top-level employee attended UC Davis.

Another SVLink startup is Predicta, a recommendation engine to help brands target influencers better. Roger Lang, the chief executive officer, said he is grateful for the introductions to key collaborators in technology, the markets, and capital. SV Link also is helping the firm make UC connections for future talent needs, as well as to recruit advisers and board members.

When asked how useful SVLink is, Lang responded: “Extremely, from insights into the changing scene around the valley to advice on pragmatic issues in my evolving business plan.”

Michele Chamberlin, coordinator of commercialization programs and special projects at UC Santa Cruz, said it took a while to recruit enough startups because of the requirement that companies must have an affiliation with UC. No more than 10 percent of the startups could be unaffiliated. “Quite a few companies applied that were rejected,” she said.

Chamberlin said she hopes the program will ultimately produce successful businesses that will contribute to job creation for UC students. If SVLink goes well, there’s a chance it could expand beyond one year.

SVLink is funded with the $2.2 million UC Santa Cruz received from Assembly Bill 2664, which provided one-time funding to further innovation and entrepreneurship efforts at UC and surrounding communities.

The SVLink Open House is free of charge and is held in conjunction with the Kraw Lecture Series.