UC venture fund includes agri investments

Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé will lead the fund's efforts to commercialise the university's research.

The University of California (UC) investment office will contribute a $250 million cornerstone commitment to a fund dedicated to ventures, including agriculture projects, developed by the university. The fund will be led by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé.

Recent agri-related ventures to come from UC research include a sensor and monitor system for irrigation management, an organic home-gardening planter, a community garden programme and research on drought management and nutrition. Since 1980, University of California patents have resulted in the formation of 843 start-ups with $11 billion in venture funding, according to the university’s 2014 Technology Commercialization Report. In addition to agriculture, the fund will invest in life sciences, technology and energy projects originating from the University of California System.

Vivek Ranadivé is best known for helping to digitise Wall Street in the early 1990s as the founder of Teknekron Software, and for founding TIBCO, an information technology giant headquartered in Palo Alto, California. He is also the majority owner of the Sacramento Kings basketball team.

“Vivek is a visionary who has transformed the way businesses operate across the world and developed his own innovations in Silicon Valley,” UC chief investment officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher said.  “Our shared vision for investing in UC innovation, our alignment of values and our investment beliefs solidified the relationship.”

Representatives from the UC investment office told Agri Investor further details on the fund’s investment strategy or fundraising activities are not yet available. The University of California comprises 10 campuses, five medical centres, three national laboratories and an enrollment of 246,000 and has a $91 billion endowment. In November, the investment office announced that it had joined the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, an investment group led by Bill Gates, focused on developing technology to combat climate change.