Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Moving to Much Larger Space in Downtown San Luis Obispo

Students collaborate the the SLO HotHouse

Students work at the HotHouse in San Luis Obispo. The HotHouse will move to a much larger space, near the Downtown Centre, in San Luis Obispo, offering more space for innovation. (Photo/Pat Pemberton)

Cal Poly has announced plans to revitalize 1144 Chorro St. in downtown San Luis Obispo, enhancing the campus community, expanding the University’s role in developing innovators and entrepreneurs, and furthering regional economic development.

The redeveloped space will house the existing downtown locations of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) and the Cal Poly Mustang Shop. The space will expand access and collaboration among economic development partners, students, faculty, local entrepreneurs, and startups in emerging industries.

Founded in 2010, the CIE is a university academic and community-focused program designed to foster skills, provide essential tools and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset to propel innovation and growth across the Cal Poly campus and the local region. Since 2015, the CIE’s off-campus location has been headquartered in downtown San Luis Obispo at The HotHouse, offering:

  • Summer Accelerator program, an intensive 12-week startup bootcamp where student-founder teams progress through the initial startup phase of business development.
  • Incubator, a two-year program for startup founders that provides early-stage companies with an advisory board, an assigned lead mentor, capital and other curated resources in a collaborative in-person environment.
  • Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which provides high-quality complimentary business assistance to startups and established companies throughout the region; helping entrepreneurs launch companies, create and retain jobs and attract capital investment.
  • Community co-working spaces, that bring together entrepreneurs, students, small business owners, remote workers and growing startups, fostering a vibrant innovation culture that connects the entrepreneurial community.

These programs will transition to 1144 Chorro St. upon completion of the project.

Cal Poly has bolstered its regional economic development efforts, supporting collaborative efforts among the City of San Luis Obispo, County of San Luis Obispo, REACH, and numerous companies committed to advancing economic prosperity. The Central Coast region is undergoing substantial transformation, marked by the rise of emerging industries such as renewable energy and space commercialization. These developments present new opportunities for innovation and business creation and provide an opportunity to reimagine how to cultivate and foster community and retain local talent.

The CIE has helped launch numerous successful startups, including some that have improved quality of life and health. Your support for the CIE will help students continue to have a positive impact on communities.

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Cal Poly’s new downtown location will offer expanded coworking capabilities, with options such as hot desks, dedicated desks, private offices and meeting rooms. A new event space will host networking events and meet-ups, expanded space for startups to pilot test new innovative products with local customers through retail popups, and other on-location customer development opportunities.

The new Cal Poly Mustang Shop location will provide a full suite of Cal Poly clothing, gifts jams, chocolate, wine, and cheese. The space will increase the shop’s floor space, allowing for an increased assortment of merchandise. Customers at the Mustang Shop will have visibility to the adjacent CIE space, providing an opportunity to fully connect the public to the mission and impact of the CIE. The Mustang Shop has supported downtown customers since 1997.

“We are thrilled to announce the development of our new downtown location, which will serve as a catalyst for regional innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development,” said Karen Tillman, economic development advisor to Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong and interim executive director of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. “This space will bring together students, entrepreneurs and community partners to create new opportunities and support the next generation of innovators and helping to build a stronger, more vibrant Central Coast.”

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