The Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) will host a presentation and networking forum open to all students. Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are the focal point of this year’s ninth annual Spring Entrepreneurship Forum hosted by the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) on Tuesday, May 14 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

AI is a progressive theory and development for computer systems to be able to complete tasks that traditionally would require human intelligence and skills.

According to a CIE press release, the first part of the forum will be presented by Cal Poly alumnus Simon Arkell, a two-time Australian Olympian and president and co-founder of Deep Lens, an AI medical software company. Arkell will discuss the breakdown of what AI really is and how different aspects of it can be used for leverage within a startup.

Business administration professor Jonathan York, who runs the entrepreneurship minor and is co-founder of the CIE, said the forum is a great opportunity for all students to attend, regardless of their entrepreneurial background.

“I think every student should be wondering or thinking about artificial intelligence and how it’s going to affect them in the future,” York said.

For students of any background and interest, the CIE forum is designed to help students dive further into how Cal Poly helps foster startups as well as learn more from those who are already experiencing it.

Following the presentation, there will be a networking event filled with early-stage entrepreneurs from Cal Poly who will be able to pitch ideas and talk among other students and alumni about their ideas and business plans. This will include a business card collection game for student startups to compete in collecting business cards from forum attendees.

There will also be a reveal of the student-founded startups that have been selected to join CIE’s 13-week summer HotHouse Startup Accelerator Program. The teams will receive $10,000 in seed funding to help them get started as well as the ability to work with specialized mentors and attend weekly workshops to kick-start their businesses, according to business administration professor Dan Weeks who also serves as the entrepreneur in residence at the SLO HotHouse.

Weeks said this is a big step for the selected teams.

Out of about 40 teams that have been working on their ideas in the Hatchery, located in the CIE section of the Business building (building 3), only a few have been chosen to continue working this summer in the HotHouse.

“They’ve been working on it for a year or two, and so the quality is so much better, and now it’s really hard to get in,” Weeks said.

Weeks said when choosing the teams for the program, they looked for groups coming from a mix of all the different colleges at Cal Poly. Regardless of their areas of study, groups that showed the most potential in getting their companies off the ground were chosen to join.

For those who are not involved but are interested in CIE, Weeks said the best place to start is by attending the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs club that meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Cotchett Education (building 2, room 210). On top of joining the club, the Hatchery is always open with working teams where students can step in and potentially join teams that are looking for people with diverse skills.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit

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