CSUMB’s Innovation institute awarded $850,000 for incubator

The Joel and Dena Gambord Business and Information Technology Building at Cal State Monterey Bay

The Joel and Dena Gambord Business and Information Technology Building at Cal State Monterey Bay

The Institute for Innovation and Economic Development at Cal State Monterey Bay has just received an $850,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Director Brad Barbeau says the money will allow the Institute to launch a business incubator, which will allow it to work with companies that participate in events like its Hackathon, the Startup Weekend, the Community Capital Expo, and its premier annual event, the Startup Challenge.

Barbeau announced the grant at Santa Cruz Works’ New Tech event, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 6pm at the Dream Inn.

 “I see this as a huge opportunity to really develop entrepreneurship in the entire region,” Barbeau says, “particularly for South Monterey County, South Santa Cruz County and San Benito County.”

The money comes as a matching grant, with half coming from USEDA and half from local donors including Union Bank, First National Bank, Wells Fargo and Taylor Farms.  

Just as it advises the startups it works with to do, the Institute aims to iterate rapidly.

“We're moving very fast,” Barbeau says. “Right now I’m setting up the intake process for the first cohort, and we hope to have that go live by October 15. So we'll be ready for companies to apply. In parallel with that, we’re putting together the advisor and mentor group—I have most of those people already identified.”

Brad Barbeau of the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development

Brad Barbeau of the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development

Barbeau credits Santa Cruz Works’ own Doug Erickson as being a key advisor over the years that it’s taken to put this grant together.

 The incubator will provide services, not offices. “We’re not going into the real estate business,” Barbeau says.

Each of the companies selected will be paired with a mentor “to guide them through the early stages, provide an important backbone, and to keep them focused on making progress,” Barbeau says. “And then a set of focused topical workshops to train them in the things that they need to know, whether it be technical, business management things, or the entrepreneurial process.”

In addition to Santa Cruz Works, the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development is looking to partner with other organizations including the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, El Pajaro Community Development Corporation, and the Kitchen Incubator in Watsonville.

“Partnerships are really important,” Barbeau says. “That’s what will make this work.”

ERIC JOHNSON