Assets + Resources

Cultivating the Central Coast growth ecosystem

The Central Coast’s thriving innovation ecosystem encompasses an energetic start-up scene, budding incubator programs, enterprising community colleges and the talent and resources of top-ranked universities.

Incubating start-ups

people working at the HotHouse incubatorThe Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s HotHouse launches community and student ventures from a network of spaces across San Luis Obispo County. To date, the HotHouse has launched 120+ companies creating 1000+ jobs and raising $250M+ of capital. Programs include:

  • 2-year incubator program, with verticals in agtech, aerospace, cleantech and medtech
  • 3-month startup accelerator
  • Elevator pitch competitions
  • Annual hackathon
  • Community coworking


Winners of New Venture competition holding large checksUC-Santa Barbara’s New Venture Program provides hands-on instruction and mentorship in launching a start-up. Now in its 23rd year, the Annual New Venture Competition provides an eight-month entrepreneurial experience where students work with mentors in multi-disciplinary teams to take their business ideas from concept to reality. UCSB is also home to the Wilcox New Venture Incubator, also known as “The Garage,” and the eight-week G2 Summer Launchpad program.



Santa Barbara City College’s Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation offers a range of support including business consulting, entrepreneurship events, and Enterprise Launch. Students can also work toward earning an A.A. degree, certificate or Skill Competency Award with an emphasis in entrepreneurship while leveraging the educational accessibility of SBCC.

Enabling Innovation

University Research and Collaboration

Two top-tier, state-funded universities provide myriad opportunities to engage in research, development and commercialization.


Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo

Expanding Tech Park

  • Existing 25,000 square foot facility just outside campus for business and nonprofit organizations engaging in research, development and product testing with faculty and students
  • $12 million expansion will add another 20,000-30,000 square feet by spring 2024, with eventual plans for a 125,000-square-foot footprint (see top image)

Industry-Sponsored Research/Student Projects

  • Design and delivery of research projects, product development and testing in collaboration with companies

Fee for Service

  • Paid access to advanced testing and analysis equipment in 18 various labs including aerospace, environmental, biomedical, geotechnical, sensory and rapid prototyping facilities

SBIR/STTR Assistance and Partnerships

  • Facilitation of small business participation in the federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Technology Transfer programs, which engage small businesses in federal R&D with the potential for commercialization, with 10 companies assisted in 2021

Tech Transfer

  • Securing of industry partners to license patented and patent-pending faculty and student inventions to bring them to market.
UC-Santa Barbara

UCSB Corporate Relations

  • Helps companies explore strategic partnerships with UCSB researchers and scholars through philanthropic investment opportunities

Industry Center

Technology & Industry Alliances

  • Manages the intellectual property developed through UCSB research, negotiates agreements with industry partners that enables research collaboration, and supports campus startups through its own startup support program and as one of the UCSB I+E Partner Programs

Nanofabrication Facility

  • Provides staff support on research needs, a collaborative environment, wide support for non-standard materials, and a proven record with industrial prototyping and transition to various levels of production

Innovators Circle

  • Grants members access to lectures and webinars, talent, ideas, networking receptions, mentorship opportunities, and student start-up competitions from a community of entrepreneurs and innovators who pool their talent, networks, and capital to support innovation
A sampling of the region's centers and institutes

Scaling small businesses

Small Business Development Centers provide high-quality, individualized business advising and technical assistance


In Santa Barbara County, SBDC services are provided through the Economic Development Collaborative, with satellite centers at Santa Barbara City College‘s Schott and Wake campuses. The EDC is also working with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce to expand services in northern Santa Barbara County.

The Cal Poly CIE SBDC provides business assistance at the HotHouse in San Luis Obispo, the Sandbox in Paso Robles, and the Launch Pad in Grover Beach. The CIE also hosts the annual AngelCon pitch competition, providing a chance for startups to win $100,000+ in equity-backed funding.


Other Resources


  • Women’s Economic Ventures provides business training, loans, consulting and coaching to help women achieve financial independence
  • Mission Community Services dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners to become self-sustaining, with a focus on serving women, low-income individuals, minority-owned businesses and rural, underserved communities
  • Score Santa Barbara local mentors help small businesses in every stage – whether starting out or wanting to grow, SCORE provides guidance in business analysis, marketing, finance, sales, and business development
  • Score San Luis Obispo provides free and confidential one-on-one business counseling by phone, email, and in-person in SLO County and the Santa Maria Valley
  • Chambers of Commerce work to enhance business and community well being in the region’s various cities and communities
Area Chambers of Commerce