University Economic Development Association


CSUN Summer Accelerator

Award Category: Innovation+Talent
Project Site: CSUN Innovation Incubator
Submitted By: California State University, Northridge
Contact: Timothy Tiemann, 661.513.8710

Case Study

CSUN’s Innovation ecosystem is based on taking students of diverse backgrounds and interests and uniting them to apply technologies to sustainably resolve commercial and social problems.  The hallmarks of the system are: inclusion, irrespective of scholastic major all are encouraged to participate; diversity, we encourage and support development of inter-disciplinary teams as multiple perspectives are likely to produce better solutions; curiosity, students are encouraged to consider how various tools might address the needs of a particular problem, design experiments and generate data to prove hypotheses.

Our ecosystem is comprised of three tiers: (1) student/faculty technology engagement (learning how new tools might be used to address a wide variety of problems (2) customer discovery (packaging and delivering the technology into a format preferred by the customer and superior to competitive alternatives in meaningful ways), and (3) launching ventures through the resources and guidance provided by the CSUN summer accelerator and incubator.

The CSUN summer accelerator was designed to afford students the opportunity to work on either commercial or social ventures developed in I-Corps, Clinton Global Initiative, Bull-Ring, or student/faculty technology showcase events over ten weeks of summer.  Over these weeks, team’s interview 100 customers to confirm product/market fit and Business Model Canvas components, learn from industry experts about design thinking, competitive positioning, debt, equity, and grant funding, legal/financial requirements.  Teams will visit and interview startups in the region, and meet weekly with dedicated EIR’s to identify and resolve issues.  From a group of over 60 applicants, 8 teams were selected.

Finalist Presentation

UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Milwaukee on October 22 and 23, 2018. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.