The Berkeley SkyDeck Europe, Milano program has invested $1.3M in the startups of its third batch

Today the selected startups were presented to investors from all over Europe


A synthetic biology system that genetically modifies mushrooms turning them into sustainable and inexpensive molecules; an app that optimizes car inspections; a solution that allows novice users to quickly develop games via verbal instructions to an AI system; an AI-powered drug discovery platform; software that provides protection against intellectual property theft of AI models: these are some of the innovative projects that the 9 selected startups have presented to international investors at today’s Demo Day’, at the end of a 6-month acceleration program that was held in Berkeley and Milan.


Berkeley SkyDeck Europe, Milano was launched by UC Berkeley SkyDeck (the accelerator of the University of California, Berkeley), the Italian innovation hub Cariplo Factory, and the international real estate group Lendlease. The project is financially supported by the Lombardy Region and the Cariplo Foundation.


Milan, October 18th, 2023 – 1.3 million euros in equity investments and direct contact with potential investors and stakeholders. This is the endowment for the nine startups that have taken part in the 6-month acceleration program Berkeley SkyDeck Europe, Milano, which has taken place in Berkeley, California and Milan, Italy (at MIND Milano Innovation District).


The program was launched by UC Berkeley SkyDeck (the accelerator of the University of California, Berkeley), the Italian innovation hub Cariplo Factory, and the international real estate, infrastructure, and urban regeneration group Lendlease, and created with the contribution of Lombardy Region and Cariplo Foundation.


During today’s “Demo Day”– that is, the final moment of the acceleration program – the startup founders have had the opportunity to present their projects to Italian and international companies and investors, as well as to the community at MIND.




The acceleration program and the selected startups

The 6-month program has given these startups the opportunity to learn at one of the best accelerators in the world. Indeed, the program’s first quarter was curated by the Berkeley SkyDeck team and its second quarter was curated by the Cariplo Factory team. The second quarter took place at MIND, Milano Innovation District, in the famous “The Hive” building. Each startup was supported by 3 mentors (two from Europe and one from the United States), was given access to an international network of investors, and was trained on fundamental topics such as go to market, product development and fundraising activities.


Moreover, the program’s second quarter provided the founders with the resources and networks of some of the best Italian Universities, selected through a tender by Cariplo Foundation. The Universities that took part in the program are: Milan Polytechnic University, University of Milan, IULM Free University of Languages and Communication, University of Eastern Piedmont “Amedeo Avogadro”, University of Insubria, University Institute of Higher Studies of Pavia, and University of Bergamo.


The nine startups were selected among many applicants from all over the world (mainly Italy, USA, UK, France, India, Germany, Spain, Canada, Nigeria). The companies are working in various technological sectors, including biomedicine, enterprise, gaming, diagnostics, biotechnology, and cybersecurity:


· Alloccasions simplifies and optimizes dealerships’ car inspections using an AI-powered mobile app that generates detailed vehicle condition, damage, and value assessments in order to enable better purchasing, selling, and asset management. This technology gives dealerships the opportunity to turn individual sellers into remote appraisers. Powered by the company’s advanced AI, the app can accurately detect any damage on a car’s bodywork, calculate its price and cost of repairs, scan and provide historical information, optimize car photos to improve marketing campaigns, and much more.


· Donaa a B2B software company that uses materials engineering-based algorithms and AI to detect 3D printing defects in real-time, with a unique approach that does not involve hardware modifications on the machines or changes to customer’s workflow. The root cause of failures during 3D printing is tracked using a camera.


· Dowork Technologies provides company stakeholders with on-demand answers and insights on anything related to their company through a Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. By connecting companies’ internal databases (spreadsheets, internal platforms, etc.) and external databases (platforms like Google Drive, Notion, etc.), Dowork’s AI can offer answers and insights in seconds, cutting administrative, operational, and analytical costs down to a fraction.


· Fintellect is a finance management superapp for project-based firms that helps avoid the profit loss that is caused by the use of disconnected finance apps & spreadsheets. Being API-first, Fintellect collects critical data and turns them into financial insights, maximizing profit per project and per team employee.


· Gisens Biotech has developed a patented, ultra-precise diagnostic device based on an innovative and revolutionary combination of bio and semiconductor technology. This device uses graphene chips that detect biomarkers with unparalleled accuracy and speed at the point of care.


· RebX is a synthetic biology company that genetically modifies and ferments fungi to sustainably and inexpensively biomanufacture molecules that have a minimum environmental impact and deliver top-quality ingredients to be used in mass consumer products. The company is developing synbio tools and a fermentation platform to produce non-bitter Reb M from stevia and more than 35 molecules for industrial use in food ingredients, flavors, fragrances, and more.


· Sefi AI is a gaming company that uses AI-based natural language processing to allow novice users to quickly develop games by way of verbal instruction. The company combines generative models and game engine features into a Natural UI creation interface that enables non-gaming entertainment companies to compete with companies such as Roblox by providing users with easy-to-make gaming UGC entertainment.


· Silica Corpora is an AI-based drug discovery platform that turns drug discovery data into useful knowledge. By replacing the traditionally manual approach of the lead generation and optimization stages with AI, the platform completes antibody drug discovery in weeks instead of years and at significantly lower cost. All the inputs and outputs for the algorithms are protein sequences that don’t require resolved or predicted 3D protein structures.


· Skyld is a software editor that provides protection against the reverse engineering of edge AI algorithms (mobile, IoT, web, desktop) without impacting performance or accuracy. Edge AI algorithms can cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Reverse-engineering these algorithms is a simple technique to steal intellectual property and acquire a model at a fraction of its cost. With Skyld, companies can securely deploy edge AI algorithms.




SkyDeck Europe’s numbers to date

Today’s Demo Day comes at the end of the third acceleration program of SkyDeck Europe. In just 2 years, the program has received applications from all over the world. Its first two programs involved 18 startups which received 2.6 million euros of direct investments and 4 million euros of follow-on investments. On average, these 18 startups have registered an increase in their workforce of approximately 50%, creating 108 jobs opportunities.


“Supporting innovation around the world has always been one of Berkeley SkyDeck’s key objectives, and Berkeley SkyDeck Europe, Milano has been an extension of that mission. Not only are the SkyDeck Europe startups creating jobs and successfully raising funds, but they are developing solutions that have the potential to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues or realize the promises of cutting-edge technologies – said Caroline Winnett, Executive Director at Berkeley SkyDeck. – Congratulations to these nine startups on their successful Demo Day, and we cannot wait to see what they accomplish next.”


“Berkeley SkyDeck Europe, Milano continues to attract more and more startups of ever higher quality, demonstrating how relevant the European ecosystem is in the landscape of international innovation. In two years, we have selected, equipped to go-to-market and invested in 27 startups from all over the world – adds Anders Nilsson, SkyDeck Europe Program Leader at Cariplo Factory. – We are very satisfied with the objectives that we have achieved so far thanks to the fundamental contribution of our network of advisors, universities, and companies. In the coming months, we hope to further expand our network to accompany startups in an increasingly effective way.”


The SkyDeck Europe program reconfirms MIND ecosystem’s ability to attract talents and investments from all over the world – says Andrea Ruckstuhl, CEO of Lendlease Europe. – We are proud to be among the first promoters of this project and to support these startups with a fundamental infrastructure for research and development in the life sciences and digitalization sector of our country.”


“This program has proven to be successful and has confirmed the strength of the Lombardy system in attracting both investments and young innovative ideas from all over the world. The Lombardy Region will continue to work so that our territory will once again be identified as the European capital of innovative startups” stated Councilor for Economic Development of the Lombardy Region Guido Guidesi.


“We can only be happy with the success of SkyDeck Europe, Milano, which brings to Italy startups from all over the world and with the ambition of growing in Europe – concludes Carlo Mango, Director of the Scientific and Technological Research Area at Cariplo Foundation. – One of the most relevant aspects of this program is its impact on our innovation ecosystem, thanks to its links to universities, the anchors of MIND, and the potential partnering companies”.