** Applications Due: April 28th @ 11:59 PM, NO EXCEPTIONS


  • Accelerator will run from June 17th, 2024 - September 6th, 2024
  • Accelerator Finalists will be notified no later than May 4th.  Finalists will need to come to the downtown CIE HotHouse for a presentation and interview process.  The presentation will be ~7-8 minutes and the interview will be ~15 minutes of Q&A.  The interviews will be completed by the evening of May 9th.
  • Saturday, May 11th (by midnight): Accelerator teams will be notified of their acceptance no later than this date.


Each Accelerator team will be given up to $10,000 in seed financing, dedicated office space in Downtown SLO, access to our Mentor Network, workshops and more!

Team’s will receive $4,000 at the start of the program and two additional stipends ($3,000 each) at the midpoint and end of the program based on successful completion of the programming and milestones.  Students who are not participating in the program, are not making progress on their business and achieving the goals of the program, or who are not abiding by the rules of conduct at the HotHouse will be asked to leave the program and will not receive any subsequent stipends.

Note: The stipend schedule is intended to incentivize and ensure active participation in the accelerator program. While it does not accommodate certain financial constraints, it is not intended to restrict anyone from participating. If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact Thomas Katona at tkatona@calpoly.edu so we can collaborate on how the CIE can best support you while also ensuring you are able to achieve the optimal outcomes from this CIE program.

Team Qualifications

  • All applicants must have AT LEAST two founders/co-founders. (If you are considering applying and do not have a co-founder, we strongly encourage you to reach out to Thomas Katona at tkatona@calpoly.edu in advance to discuss your particular situation.)   We have accepted solo founders in the past BUT it is only by exception and not common.
  • Co-founders are full-time participants in the accelerator program (not consultants or contractors)
  • Co-founders must be in SLO for all of the accelerator programming.
  • Priority given to upperclass students.


In-Person, Full-Time Commitment for All 12 Weeks

The program is an in-person experience, hosted at the downtown Hothouse. In-person participation is a requirement throughout the entirety of the program. Given our goal of a co-founder experience,  all co-founder participants must participate in person, full time, for the entirety of the scheduled programming. Each team can include non-co-founder participants in addition to the co-founders. They need to be designated as such at the accelerator interview, with participation in scheduled program activities and events being optional. Designation of co-founders and non-cofounder participants will be verified during the accelerator interview and Co-founder Agreement development process.

All workshops, events, activities, and guest speaker sessions (lunches and dinners) are mandatory for founders/co-founders. Attendance by other participants and other team members are optional.

This is not a class or a school project. This is an accelerator meant to get your full-time business off the ground. As such, we expect every co-founder to be fully committed to the process, to be present every day, and to participate in all workshops/activities.  You are committing ~12 weeks of more than full-time work toward your business, and in return, we will commit to supporting you as best we can.

We are looking for committed teams who are ready to work hard, build their business and have an amazing experience!

Welcome to the submission site for Cal Poly's Innovation Quest competition.  We are so excited to once again be hosting this fantastic competition which highlights student innovators from across campus.  Submissions are due Friday March 15th by 11:59pm.

Read and respond to each question carefully.  There are word limits so be thorough but you'll need to be concise.  You are able to start, save, and return to your application at any time so we encourage you to start early, save your application and come back to it to make revisions.  When you are finished remember to submit the application as "in-process" applications will not be judged even if there are words for each question.

This application will be used to determine our finalists (~12 Teams).  Finalists will be announced approximately two weeks after final submissions are received.  More details on preparation for the finals will be provided after the finalists are announced.  The finalist presentations will be on Saturday April 27th and the awards banquet will be that evening.

All future correspondence about the competition will go only to the e-mail address that is listed for the team lead.  That individual is responsible for notifying the rest of the team about information regarding the submission, deadlines, instructions, etc.

Questions can be directed to Tom Katona (tkatona@calpoly.edu).  
Good luck everyone!


Cal Poly CIE