Learn, Prepare, Launch

The Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship helps students build an entrepreneurial mindset so they can solve big problems and create value in the world. In many cases that means starting a new business, but entrepreneurs have an impact in every career, field, industry and organization.

At the CIE, students are immersed in the entrepreneurial process through hands-on programs that help them Learn, Prepare and Launch.


Entrepreneurship Minor

The campus-wide Entrepreneurship Minor launched in fall 2017. Students from a broad cross-section of majors participate in a curriculum that includes courses as varied as Design Thinking, Negotiations, Customer Development, and access to all of the nineteen entrepreneurial-oriented courses at Cal Poly.


Entrepreneurship Concentration

The Entrepreneurship Concentration is a thriving part of the College of Business. Each year, over 90 entrepreneurial-minded students are exposed to all aspects of entrepreneurship, from opportunity evaluation to entrepreneurial finance. A year-long senior project class allows a select group of business students to work side-by-side with others from engineering and design to build a startup of their own.   


CIE Faculty Fellows

Faculty Fellows are responsible for developing the entrepreneurial culture at Cal Poly. Within each of Cal Poly’s six colleges, Faculty Fellows develop classes, competitions and innovative programs that cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset and support students pursuing an entrepreneurial path.


Cal Poly Entrepreneurs

Cal Poly Entrepreneurs (CPE) is a thriving student community that brings together creative thinkers and doers to build world-changing ideas. Now the largest club on the Cal Poly campus, CPE provides a forum for students to network and share ideas in an environment that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.


Innovation Sandbox

Innovation Sandbox is a shared workspace for students to “play” with the latest prototyping and ideation tools, explore emerging technologies and share project ideas and knowledge. The Innovation Sandbox introduces students to cutting-edge technology, enabling them to develop their product ideas in a collaborative, student-run workspace.


Entrepreneurship Forum Series

Our forum series offers students an opportunity to hear from successful entrepreneurs from every industry imaginable. In a casual and interactive setting, experts share their key insights on industries, business models, fundraising, exit strategies and more.


Elevator Pitch Competition

Hosted each fall, the Elevator Pitch Competition has become a Cal Poly favorite. Students have 90-seconds to pitch their products, services and startups to a panel of expert judges. Students across all majors participate and the winner walks away with a $1,000 prize and, more importantly, the confidence to pursue their dream.


Startup Weekend

Starting a business usually takes months or years of preparation. At Startup Weekend we give students 54 hours to build a business with a team of complete strangers across all disciplines and majors. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to find out what it takes to develop a viable startup in the modern world.



At the CIE we understand that your best ideas can arrive before your diploma. In fact, the startups that change the world often begin in dorm rooms not board rooms. We designed the Hatchery, our on-campus incubator, to shape and grow student-led startups, providing students with workspace, mentors and everything needed to build a startup from scratch.


Innovation Quest

Innovation Quest is a university-wide competition that provides non-equity seed funding, mentorship and more to help student-led teams move quickly from idea to prototype to startup. Founded in 2004 by Cal Poly graduates, Carson Chen (EE, ’73), Richard Boberg (EE, ’70) and Laura Pickering (EE, ’84), Innovation Quest has awarded more $300,000 to student-led startups and helped launch dozens of Cal Poly companies.



Held annually since 2013, the Hackathon is Learn by Doing in action. Students from all disciplines and majors spend 24 hours creating, coding, designing and building alongside experienced mentors and technology executives.


SLO HotHouse Accelerator

Over 13 weeks each summer, student- founders are given the tools, the funding, the space and the expertise to launch their startups. Selected through a competitive process, these student-founded startups are given $10,000, access to dozens of mentors, advisors and industry experts, and the opportunity to pursue their dream. Since 2011 the SLO HotHouse Accelerator has helped launch 70 Cal Poly startups that have gone on to raise more than $60M in capital.


SLO HotHouse Incubator

The next level of support for growing startups, the SLO HotHouse Incubator provides two years of space, mentorship, peer-to-peer support, advisors, a built-in network and access to early stage investors throughout California and beyond.