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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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Participants at the San Diego Innovation Council Showcase Participants at the San Diego Innovation Council Showcase

SDSU Startups Participate in San Diego Innovation Showcase

SDSU entrepreneurs presented their startups at the San Diego Innovation Council Showcase.
By Kellie Woodhouse

San Diego State University entrepreneurs presented their startups at the San Diego Innovation Council (SDIC) Showcase this week, making connections with fellow entrepreneurs that might help their fledgling businesses grow. 

Hoopla, a student startup that plans to sell bioplastic containers beginning in spring 2019, presented their prototype and business plan to a room full of fellow entrepreneurs and investors. The showcase led to several promising connections, said Hoopla co-founder Josh Munoz.

“As a startup and a small team, we don’t have a huge network,” Munoz said. “The showcase is an amazing opportunity for us to meet new faces and reach out to possible investors and partners who can help us as we work to commercialize our technology.”

Munoz graduated from SDSU last spring, while Hoopla’s engineer, Austin Wolf, is currently a junior. The company is part of SDSU’s startup incubator, the Zahn Innovation Platform (ZIP) Launchpad, which encouraged Munoz and his co-founders to participate in the showcase. 

Fellow student-run companies like Soul Much, which sells “upcycled” cookies and flour made from discarded grains, distributed their products for the 400-plus attendees to sample. 

The showcase took place Oct. 25 at JLABS, Johnson & Johnson’s life sciences incubator in La Jolla. 

“The experience for SDSU startups attending the showcase and presenting has been tremendous,” said Cathy Pucher, director of the ZIP Launchpad. “The event was full of potential investors and opportunities to network and learn from others who have found success in starting their own businesses.” 

SDSU faculty also had the opportunity to showcase their work.

SDSU researcher Pete Coulter presented Change Aerial, a spinoff he started with geography professor Doug Stow and leaders of the existing company Action Drone. Change Aerial uses technology developed by Coulter and Stow to enable rapid, low-cost drone monitoring. 

Six SDSU labs presented their research, including chemistry professors Byron Purse, who is developing fluorescent probes to rapidly identify pathogens, and Jeff Gustafson, whose research has identified a technique for decreasing unwanted side effects in some cancer drugs. The two researchers hope to commercialize their work, and they said it was helpful to hear from other researchers who had successfully navigated the path to commercialization

“The showcase was a great opportunity for faculty innovators to interact with the investment community and learn from experienced entrepreneurs who have taken research-based ideas to the marketplace,” said Tommy Martindale, director of SDSU’s Technology Transfer Office and current SDIC president. 

Brad Chisum, an SDSU alumnus who co-founded technology company Lumedyne Technologies, also participated in the event. Lumedyne sold to Google in 2015 for a reported $85 million.