A $10 million commitment from Taiwan-based company Pioneer Material Precision Tech (PMP Tech) will catalyze educational opportunities for future generations of Berkeley chemistry, chemical engineering, and chemical biology students and help realize a vision of constructing a groundbreaking building to house the world’s most advanced community of chemical scientists and engineers.
Last year, the company — a leading global manufacturer of innovative high-tech elastomers and other environmentally friendly rubber products for consumer electronics — contributed $3.6 million to establish the PMP Tech Chancellor’s Chair in Chemistry, held by professor T. Don Tilley. Through a financial matching arrangement, the College of Chemistry will hire a new assistant professor to further support Berkeley’s cutting-edge, innovative soft materials research. Laboratory start-up funds for the new professor have also been partially provided by PMP Tech.
Now PMP Tech has strengthened its bond with Berkeley by investing in a top campaign priority for both the campus and the College. Heathcock Hall will enable expansion of research and undergraduate teaching in state-of-the-art laboratories and collaborative spaces, while providing facilities where faculty and student entrepreneurs can commercialize discoveries and innovations. When completed, the new building will define the eastern entrance into campus and be a gateway to the College complex. It is the first building on campus proposed to be named by an alumnus in honor of a living professor, Clayton Heathcock, professor emeritus of chemistry and former dean of the College. This naming opportunity was made possible by a generous commitment from Tori and Terry Rosen. Terry Rosen (Ph.D. ’85, Chemistry) was a graduate student with Heathcock.
Chancellor Carol Christ said, “Heathcock Hall is vital to the College of Chemistry’s educational and research mission and Berkeley’s capacity to change the world. This extraordinary commitment from PMP Tech will truly make a difference in advancing the project forward and is particularly heartening as we look ahead to recovery from the pandemic.”
“Heathcock Hall is going to provide new and unprecedented opportunities to translate discoveries from the laboratory into innovations that will directly benefit society,” said College of Chemistry Dean Douglas Clark. “This amazing contribution will help ensure that we realize our vision of building a world-class facility, in which faculty and students will learn and work together in producing new breakthroughs for future generations.”
PMP Tech’s partnership with Berkeley began with an introduction from Ted Hou (Ph.D ’95, Chemistry), a general partner in the Berkeley Catalyst Fund, which provides early-stage venture capital support for science-based startups launched by Berkeley students, faculty, and alumni. With a PMP Tech factory now operating in Silicon Valley for proximity to prominent clients, the campus-company relationship could soon include internships and potential careers for Cal-trained chemists and engineers.
PMP Tech was founded by Rubber and Joy Chen, who serve as CEO and CFO, respectively, in 1978, the year that Rubber Chen earned his degree in chemical engineering from National Taipei University of Technology. He has also directed philanthropy to his alma mater, including funding for a research and manufacturing institute as well as for building a landmark bell-tower inspired by Berkeley’s Campanile.
The Chens consider education to be their most rewarding and valuable investment. Having directly observed the educational excellence of Berkeley through the example of their nephew, Wei Lun Chen M.S. ’17, they were moved to visit the campus themselves.
“It’s my honor to work with Berkeley in nurturing hard-working talent and supporting advanced research to make the world a better place,” said Rubber Chen. “I truly believe that Berkeley is devoted to the highest quality of education.”