A Decade with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


CIE Exterior

The CIE has been assisting curious, technically savvy, and entrepreneurial-minded Cal Poly students with their startup aspirations since 2010. Co-founded by business professors Jonathan York and Lou Tornatzky, its founding mission was to allow every student, regardless of major, to be exposed to entrepreneurship inside and outside of the classroom.

Since then, the center has grown to include a wide array of curricula, events, and competitions, including its Hatchery, HotHouse Accelerator, and Incubator programs, which are designed to train, fund, and assist emerging, student-launched business.

The CIE’s founding mission was to allow every student, regardless of major, to be exposed to entrepreneurship inside and outside of the classroom.

It’s also become a tentpole of the San Luis Obispo business community. As an example, its executive director, John Townsend, recently shifted many of the CIE’s resources to its Small Business Development Center to help regional businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the passing of the CARES Act, the Small Business Development Center received an additional $300,000 in funding to help regional businesses and entrepreneurs with consulting and support.

It also established an action committee to work with local businesses to gain access to more assistance. As of early spring, the CIE had received more than 200 applications and helped local businesses gain access to $882,000 worth of funding. Check out the accompanying stats for more on the decade-long influence of the CIE.

Learn more about the CIE here.