Cal Poly SLO I&E Improvement and Expansion
What follows is a list of six strategies that will guide Cal Poly's Entrepreneurship program and the innovative ecosystem at the school to greater potential and achievement.
Meeting of the Minds
The first step towards success is knowing your outcome. In a meeting with those people who have the power to improve the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, we will accomplish the following:
- Specifiy areas needing improvement
- Assign responsibilities for projects
- Set goals for the next year, two years, and four years
This meeting will include myself, and other leaders from the I&E (Innovation & Entrepreneurship) ecosystem.
Revamping the Current Model
It's no use expanding something not ready to be expanded, so we need to make sure the fundamental model we are building upon is sturdy.
We will do this by:
- Improving the teamwork between CIE, The Hatchery, and CPE
- Increasing the attendance for programs and CPE meetings
- Increasing the visibility of each program
Implementing Physical Expansion
It's not enough to occupy the campus as an idea; we have to be a physical presence as well. An expansion of our functional space will help us capture a larger audience, as well as provide more resources. The CEO of the software company Vertigo, recently said in a talk with Cal Poly Entrepreneurs that, "The most valuable resource you can have is whiteboard space."
This will come in the form of:
- Expanding our maker space, The Innovation Sandbox, while also providing more resources
Implementing Interdisciplinary Expansion
To create a schoolwide ecosystem, it is necessary that our programs provide resources that are useful to multiple majors.
We will do this by:
- Working with the Creative Media and Development Club to put on more events like "Hackathon"
- Targeting disciplines, such as Biochemistry or Computer Science, to build innovative resources for use within our spaces
Stepping It Up
This strategy is about going big; hosting huge events that can't help but draw a lot of attention and participation.
- Hosting a TEDx event centered on implementing design into any discipline
- Starting our first competition for funding above $20k
- Working with local businesses to solve real problems
- Bringing in speakers from Google and Stanford
Innovation should never stop, which is why we need systems in place to ensure it never does.
These systems include:
- Assimilation of new University Innovation Fellows
- Continued funding for I&E
- Continued addition of programs
- Continued reviewing of efficacy of programs
- Creating ways to remove/combine programs
All of these strategies are able to be implemented immediately, but If we focus on each step in order, the steps following each one will have a far more powerful effect. Each step builds awareness and trust with the students and the school from the grassroots up, and once we have the community's vote of confidence, we will be able to move mountains. Sure, we could put on a TEDx event, centered on innovation and hosting 500+ students, but what happens when those students get interested? They flow into a program that isn't ready with enough quality resources (aren't revamped) to fit a wide variety of needs (interdisciplinary expansion), and worse, we wouldn't even have enough space to accommodate these new-comers!
Order is important in this strategy flow.
One more thing, this is not a static list, but a cycle. We will continue to set goals, expand physically via programs, step it up by increasing our ambitions, and revise the sustainability system to keep this cycle going.
My name is Nicholas Sinai, I am the University Innovation Fellow for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and I am honored to be a part of this movement toward greatness.