Berkeley SkyDeck and Berkeley Space Center Join Forces for Air and Space Accelerator Track

Three new industry experts join Berkeley SkyDeck to attract and accelerate the most promising aerospace startups

BERKELEY, Calif.--()--Berkeley SkyDeck, a global hub for entrepreneurship and a leading accelerator, today announced that it has relaunched its Air and Space Track in collaboration with the recently-announced Berkeley Space Center at NASA Research Park (“Berkeley Space Center”). The relaunched track takes advantage of renewed interest in space exploration and commercialization, as well as advances in autonomous flight technology to provide startups with the resources and connections necessary for success. Interested startups can apply for the track beginning with Batch 18, which will take applications from January 17 through February 14. Applications can be found here.

The Air and Space Track will also welcome three new chairs.

  • Darek DeFreece is the founder and executive director of Berkeley Space Center, a planned 36-acre innovation hub envisioned to accelerate Silicon Valley’s existing innovation ecosystem, catalyzing deeper collaboration between the private, academic and governmental sectors. A regent emeritus of the University of California, DeFreece is a capital markets and venture capital attorney with 25 years of experience advising investment firms and early stage companies.
  • Abhi Tripathi currently serves as the Director of Mission Operations at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Lab. His experience includes both work at NASA and SpaceX. He was a Dragon Mission Director and led Human Certification of vehicles at SpaceX.
  • Mike Moreno, a Berkeley-Haas MBA, co-created and ran the AWS Space Accelerator for its first three years. A former CIA case officer and FBI instructor, he also worked on expansion strategy at Viasat.

“There could be no better time for aerospace entrepreneurs to launch their companies on the UC Berkeley campus. With Berkeley Space Center acting as the connective tissue between SkyDeck, NASA Ames Research Center and private tech investors, we’re able to leverage expertise from across the industry to guide new companies on their journeys,” said DeFreece. “It’s an exciting time to connect with Berkeley SkyDeck and the rest of the team to boost our most promising startups.”

The Berkeley Space Center was announced by UC Berkeley in October 2023, in partnership with SKS Partners, and in coordination with NASA Ames. Among its goals is to serve as a super incubator for start-ups in the near-space and outer space arenas as a nexus encompassing academic, public and private applications of all things air and space.

“Berkeley SkyDeck offers a deep bench of connections for our cohort companies. Our new partnership with Berkeley Space Center and the relaunched Air and Space Track is just the latest example of that ethos,” added Caroline Winnett, Executive Director of Berkeley SkyDeck. “2024 looks to be a dynamic year for aerospace across applications, including defense, outer space and near space. I anticipate that applications for the Batch 18 Air and Space Track will be incredibly competitive.”

Berkeley SkyDeck accepts just over 1.5% of startups that apply and approximately 20 to 25 startups overall for each of its cohorts. Cohort companies receive $200,000 in funding, $750,000 worth of free and discounted resources, and access to SkyDeck’s unsurpassed network of UC Berkeley alumni, faculty, and advisors. Berkeley SkyDeck is currently working with its Batch 17 cohort of companies, with Demo Day expected in April 2024. Berkeley SkyDeck Europe, Milano also announced that applications are now open for its fifth cohort class, and the final deadline is February 14, 2024. Applications are here.

About Berkeley SkyDeck

Berkeley SkyDeck is a leading accelerator and the global hub for entrepreneurship. As UC Berkeley’s largest and most prominent accelerator, SkyDeck combines hands-on mentorship with the vast resources of its research university. SkyDeck is the only accelerator of its kind that offers the value of a dedicated investment fund alongside the resources and network of a top university. To date, SkyDeck startups have raised more than $1.8 billion in aggregate. Participating startups have access to SkyDeck’s 700 advisors and mentors, 70 industry partners, and a network of more than 510,000 UC Berkeley alumni. For more information, see

About Berkeley Space Center at NASA Research Park

Berkeley Space Center at NASA Research Park (“Berkeley Space Center”) is a Bay Area innovation hub that was envisioned and will be developed by UC Berkeley and SKS Partners. The advanced research and development hub hopes to set a new sustainability standard for large-scale developments and serve as a birthplace for tomorrow’s breakthroughs. Located within NASA Research Park at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the 36-acre mixed-use development will accelerate and expand the Bay Area’s innovation ecosystem, catalyzing advancements across diverse sectors – from aeronautics and quantum computing, to climate studies and the social sciences. To learn more, please visit


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Songue PR for Berkeley SkyDeck