Lean Transfer


Lean Transfer is an MBA course open to all graduate students. The course provides hands-on learning for building deep technology startups. Based on Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad courses taught at Haas, participants will form teams around existing UC Berkeley IP from top inventors and use industry-standard customer discovery principles to test for commercialization potential. The inventors represent the top tier of UC Berkeley’s world class technologies. Other technologies available for selection will include non-classified patents from our educational partnership with Berkeley Labs, NASA, NSA and other Federal agencies/labs.

Inventors will attend the first two classes to pitch/explain their technologies to students. Students will be a roughly 50/50 mix of Haas MBA students and students from the M.Eng program (Fung Institute), Information Management and Systems (MIMS), Information and Data Science (MIDS), Information and Cybersecurity (MICS), Translational Medicine (MTM) as well as doctoral programs.

Inventors will serve as technical advisors to the teams, but students will do the work of talking to customers, partners, competitors, etc. as they search for a product-market fit that will lead to a scalable business model. No prior business experience or training is necessary, but teams will be required to “get out of the building” and conduct at least 80 customer discovery interviews.


This course is intended for anyone who wants to learn the Lean Launchpad method, using established world-class technology vs. an idea of their own. It will significantly benefit future managers of technology as well as inventors who may want to commercialize their technologies in the future.

Example: a previous year’s projects (circular recycling of plastics) from Berkeley Labs is being spun out as a real company. The inventor entered the class planning to use the technology in athletic shoes. Eighty interviews later, the inventor and team learned that the ecosystem and supply chain are complex and slow moving. Through the interviews, they identified a customer with a more urgent need (eyeglasses frame manufacturers) and less complex ecosystem.

SAMPLE PROJECTS (past courses):

  • LASER TEM [Bakar Fellow]
  • Super-Resolution Microscopy (SR-STORM) [Bakar Fellow]
  • Greener Jeans [Bakar Fellow]
  • Bio-gel for skeletal and muscle self-repairs [UC Bioengineering Professor]
Bioartificial pancreas [UCSF Surgical Innovations Fellow]
  • Accelerated plant breeding by nanomaterial-delivered gene-editing (CRISPR-Cas9) [Bakar Fellow]
  • Deployment of new production method for cancer treating/curing isotope [Berkeley Labs]
Device and method of authenticated cryptography [NSA Unclassified Patent]
Method of Controlling a Transaction [NSA Unclassified Patent]


Darren Cooke is the Executive Director of the Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Center at UC Berkeley, and Professional Faculty at the Berkeley Haas business school. He chairs the Bio Track at Berkeley SkyDeck, and is on the faculty for the National Science Foundation's I-Corps program. He is also the past chair of Medical Device and Digital Health at Life Science Angels. As an attorney, he led the IP legal team for the life science tools group of Bio-Rad Laboratories, and was a life sciences patent litigator at Covington & Burling. Before law school Darren was a mechanical engineer developing cochlear implants at UCSF.

Rhonda Shrader is the Executive Director of Berkeley-Haas Entrepreneurship as well as the Bay Area Node for NSF I-Corps. As an entrepreneur, she was an early team member of MIT spinout Organogenesis, one of the first publicly traded regenerative medicine companies. She has founded or was an early stage team member of startups in biotech, behavioral health, non-profit, retail and AI. She served as a long-time mentor for UCSF’s Idea to IPO course, is an active advisor for NASA spinoff BrainAid, and recently led the winning teams for both the Health Tech Forum Codeathon and the San Francisco MedHack 2.0 Hackathon. She earned an undergraduate degree in neuropsychology and premedical studies from Harvard and an MBA from Berkeley-Haas.

Sample Syllabus


Although this is a Berkeley Haas MBA course, any Berkeley graduate student may enroll in it. Students will be a roughly 50/50 mix of Haas MBA students and M.Eng program (Fung Institute), Information Management and Systems (MIMS), Information and Data Science (MIDS), Information and Cybersecurity (MICS), Translational Medicine (MTM) as well as doctoral programs. If you fall within the latter category, you must wait until after MBA registration closes to formally enroll. To put your name in the queue for registration, simply follow the instructions on this page (note the August 31 deadline).Please be assured you will be admitted to the course, but please also let us know your intent to enroll via email at darren.cooke@berkeley.edu.



REQUIRED READINGS: Required reading and videos will be included in the course materials.

BASIS FOR FINAL GRADE: Class participation, meeting the mandatory customer discovery interview count (80 per team) and quality of weekly presentations accounts for eighty percent of the grade. Team peer review feedback accounts for twenty percent.

Teams are also required to produce a 2 minute Lessons Learned video. Examples here:

Lean Transfer, Fall 2022 (quite a few students not pictured)