USC, Hollywood talent agency UTA and prominent venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers have partnered to launch Viterbi Startup Garage, a technology accelerator that will provide financial and strategic support to promising entrepreneurs.
Any USC undergraduate, graduate student or recent alumni can apply for the program as long as one member of the team is enrolled at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering or is a Viterbi alumnus. A handful of companies will receive financial grants and mentorship for 12 weeks, working out of the program's facility in Marina del Rey.
Viterbi has some 1,800 undergraduate and 3,800 graduate students. Weinstein, Soni, KPCB general partner Mike Abbott and Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of the school, will formally introduce the program April 2 at USC.
According to Ashish Soni, executive director of Digital innovation for USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, this is the first Los Angeles accelerator backed by a major university. Its goals are to identify local entrepreneurs and keep their skills (and companies) in Southern California, bolstering an burgeoning tech scene.
"We have been proudly advising technology startups for many years, and the Startup Garage will give us an opportunity to be even more hands-on with inspiring entrepreneurs who are working on groundbreaking ideas,” Brent Weinstein, head of digital media at UTA, said in a statement. “So many early-stage companies are media focused or media adjacent, that we feel Los Angeles is the ideal place to launch an accelerator in partnership with world class partners like USC and KPCB."
UTA has been one of the most forward-thinking agencies in the technology space, launching a digital division in 2006 and attempting to launch an independent studio for online entertainment. It remains the lone agency with a social-media agent.
Kleiner Perkins is one of the most prominent venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, having invested in everything from Amazon to Electronic Arts to AOL.
“Talent is global, and we are very impressed by the quality of engineers emerging from USC's Viterbi School,” Abbot said in a statement. “The partnership with USC and UTA is an example of our intensifying efforts to identify and nurture the next-generation of technology leaders wherever they are in the world, adding to our strong track record of organizing and supporting pioneering development programs to build scalable successful businesses."