The instructor presenting to the class

Course Description

This offers a dynamic interdisciplinary platform for students eager to address the mental health crisis through entrepreneurial action and innovation. In this 4-unit Challenge Lab, students from all academic backgrounds engage in a hands-on learning experience, developing real-world prototypes and creating startup projects that tackle pressing mental health issues. Leveraging the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship, the course integrates interactive exercises, industry insights, and team collaboration to guide students from ideation to a tangible prototype by the semester’s end. Supported by the expertise and resources of the Neurotech Collider Lab at Berkeley, participants are immersed in an environment that combines technology, business acumen, and a deep understanding of cognitive and behavioral science to forge impactful solutions.
  • Mental health issues have reached epidemic levels worldwide. In the United States, depression has been diagnosed in one in twenty individuals, with women and Black and Latinx communities facing a disproportionate share of these challenges.
  • Mental illness affects one in five adults, totaling 50 million Americans, signaling an urgent need for innovative care strategies.
Demographic Shifts and Their Consequences
  • The aging population, often referred to as the ‘Silver Tsunami,’ includes one in three baby boomers now grappling with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alarmingly, 40% of them also endure significant depression.
  • Social isolation is another critical issue, with nearly half of U.S. adults experiencing levels of loneliness that can lead to health consequences as severe as shortening life expectancy by up to 15 years.
The Younger Generation’s Battle
  • The impact of social media on youth is profound, with a notable percentage facing cyberbullying and suffering from social anxiety, isolation, and depression.
  • The healthcare workforce has seen a significant decline, with a loss of about 20%, underscoring the heightened demand for mental health services and the stress on healthcare systems.
Emerging Technologies and Opportunities
This course is not just about understanding these issues but actively responding to them. We explore how the surge in ML/AI technologies and brain-machine interfaces are reshaping our approach to mental health care. The promise of these emerging technologies, grounded in cognitive and behavioral sciences, is central to our curriculum as we look to close the gap in mental health inequities.We welcome passionate students from all majors to build diverse teams and bring their business, technical, and creative skills to the table.
Our aim is to nurture innovations that can lead to viable start-ups, transforming how we address mental health challenges both locally and globally.

  • Students will be mentored by experienced business leaders, entrepreneurs, and technologists.
  • The coursework will introduce various methodologies and tools for company ideation, business plan development, and market analysis.
This hands-on course is designed not just to educate but to inspire action. Through it, you might just develop the next groundbreaking solution in neurotech, underpinned by guidance from the Neurotech Collider Lab. Join us in this entrepreneurial journey to make a tangible difference in the world of mental health care.


About Challenge Labs

Challenge Labs are 4 unit courses for students of all academic backgrounds who seek a rigorous, interactive, team-based, and hands-on learning experience in entrepreneurship and technology. These courses use a unique pedagogy, The Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship, that involves the use of games, industry guest speakers, team exercises, videos and labs to cover the early part of the startup lifecycle. In these highly experiential courses, students form start-up teams to create technology solutions or services to address a broadly-defined problem posed by an industry partner or social challenge.

Relevant News

Collaboration with Brain Capital Alliance

UC Berkeley's Neurotech Collider Lab is collaborating with the Brain Capital Initiative to accelerate the development of neurotechnology solutions that can improve brain health and well-being.


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Gail Gannon

Director of Neurotech Collider Lab

Gail Christine Gannon is the CEO of Ensanté Tech for Good Advisors, a social enterprise advisory for tech startups, and a faculty member at the University of California Berkeley, Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. In Spring 2022 she taught a successful Challenge Lab titled “Unleashing Innovation to Solve Global Health Challenges”. This course was instrumental in helping students build a portfolio to increase their employability in the health tech space and for their applications to graduate and medical school. Gail has and continues to mentor startups all over the world and serves as a health tech industry opinion leader and lecturer for students at UCSF Lean Launch, Stanford SPARK, and Harvard HealthLab. She also is asked to give lectures and bespoke interactive workshops to International Business Schools on Entrepreneurship. Gail is instrumental in helping companies build to scale and to successful acquisition.