Innovation Challenge Begins Ninth Year

If you have an idea to start a business, consider entering the CSULB Innovation Challenge. The contest provides support and mentoring as interdisciplinary teams go through the process of creating a business plan, with an eye on winning up to $50,000 in cash and services to turn that idea into a reality.

The Innovation Challenge was introduced by the College of Engineering nine years ago, and now incorporates the College of the Arts, College of Business Administration and Center for the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Teams can include CSULB graduates and non-student entrepreneurs, with the requirement that at least one team member be a CSULB student playing a decisive role.

Participating in the Innovation Challenge not only gives teams the experience of developing a business plan, but also exposes them to high-level mentors from industry and student entrepreneurs from outside their major. Participants gain practice in working on interdisciplinary teams, refining their ideas, and pitching to audiences.

“Whatever you learn here will follow you the rest of your life,” said College of Business Administration Dean Michael Solt. “Next thing you know, you might change the world.”

Electrical engineering technology major Rae Jillian Rivera and marketing and management information systems graduate Calvin Leung, co-chairs of Artemus Labs, credit their team’s diversity and the need their product fills for their team taking first place last year.

Wade Martin, director of the Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, said all four of last year’s finalist teams are still working to bring their product or service to market. “If you don’t win, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad idea, it just might need some adjustment.”

And you don’t need a business idea to participate. “If you don’t have an idea, we’ve got plenty,” said industrial design professor Stephen Boyer, a member of the Innovation Challenge Steering Committee. “One of the great things about the Innovation Challenge is it brings people together from all disciplines.”

To participate or find out more about the challenge, team-building mixers will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 7-9 p.m. in CBA-139 and Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 3-5 p.m. in the Duncan Anderson Design Gallery. A letter of intent support session will be held on Friday, Sept. 21 in CBA-242 from 12-3 p.m.

To RSVP, visit