Santa Cruz Tech Beat


UCSC launches IDEA Hub to generate social enterprises

By Cori Hoover
Project Assistant, UCSC VizLab
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

May 31, 2017 — Santa Cruz, CA

IDEA Hub’s first Pitch for Social and Creative Enterprise takes place June 7, 3pm,  before the SC New Tech Meetup, at Hotel Paradox

UC Santa Cruz is excited to present its newest academic program, the IDEA Hub. Led by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED), the IDEA Hub is a campus-wide initiative for students, created to spread social and creative entrepreneurship at UCSC. A network of incubation facilities, fellowships, seminars, workshops, and mentorships provides students spaces to think critically about the challenges facing society and propose pathways for meaningful intervention. This program gives graduate and undergraduate students a unique opportunity to make a difference in their community, developing skills and capacity to conceptualize and execute their socially engaged ideas.

The IDEA Hub is more than just a lab or mentorship program; it is a space where students are given the opportunity to collaborate with diverse interdisciplinary teams and develop ideas with technical knowledge to create projects with real-world impact. It is our hope that the IDEA Hub will be used to benefit both UCSC and the Santa Cruz community. Through this program the public will be able to engage with the university, and raise concerns that affect our shared city. This community involvement is the inspiration for the IDEA Hub, as the members of this program will use their projects to find solutions to community- and campus-proposed social challenges.

These projects will be developed in Hub Teams. The Hub Team is a yearlong program, where students have access to mentors, seminars and workshops, and project seed funding. Hub team members also have admittance to all four of the following campus incubation stations, each team being affiliated with a specific lab, depending on the nature of their project:

Sustainability Lab

The S-lab is a facility for students interested in developing technology-based innovations in the areas of sustainability, green tech, agriculture tech, food tech, and biotech. Facility consists of a wet-lab in Thimann and Outdoor Greenhouses at UCSC Arboretum.

The OpenLab

The OpenLab is a facility for students interested in developing collaborative projects across the Arts and Sciences, focused on creative and cultural innovation. Sharing facilities with the Baskin Visual Arts Department, students have access to five maker spaces: a woodshop, a metal shop, a state-of-the-art foundry, a studio space, and a digital design lab (the Hive).

The Everett Program

The Community Media and Mapping Lab is for students interested in developing digital information tools to promote social enterprise. Facilities consist of tech lab space in the Everett Program housed in Social Sciences II.

The VizLab

The VizLab facilitates student engagement in Digital Humanities through the use of visual technologies. The space includes a large-scale visualization wall, Virtual Reality hardware, and advanced graphics software options. In this space, students can develop content and tools to interact virtually with the world, promote cultural and historical sustainability, and change the way we see space. Students will also be able to check out hardware necessary for creating visual content, including 360 cameras, GoPros, and other media capture devices. This lab is housed in the Digital Scholarship Commons in McHenry Library and supported by the University Library and Institute for Humanities Research.

Public invited to first business pitch competition June 7 at 3pm

To mark the start of this new program, the IDEA Hub will be holding its first business pitch competition. Pitch for Social and Creative Enterprise takes place at Hotel Paradox, 611 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, June 7, 3 p.m. Teams (with at least one UCSC student) will pitch their ideas to entrepreneurial judges with expertise in social-benefitting for-profit or non-profit organizations. These projects vary in subject, but all of them address and propose solutions to social issues or are uniquely creative. One of the concerns being addressed at this event is the Santa Cruz housing crisis. MicroPod will be pitching their idea for a new form of sustainable and inexpensive home. Code Naturally is an educational program created to make computer science accessible to elementary and middle school students. These are only two of the fourteen teams who will be pitching their ideas, including water conservation and more sustainable transportation, at the event on June 7.

Winners will present at Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup

The top three winners of the pitch competition will receive cash prizes to seed their business project and will present at the ensuing Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup, which starts at 6 p.m. The Pitch for Social and Creative Enterprise is free and open to the public. IDEA Hub welcomes the Santa Cruz and UCSC community to attend the event and support our student entrepreneurs and their team members from the community.

Financial support for students

If you have a passion for social entrepreneurship but were unable to apply for the Pitch for Social and Creative Enterprise, there are still opportunities for you to participate in this program. Among its many resources, the IDEA Hub also provides financial support to student fellows.

Graduate students can apply for a quarter-length graduate fellowship, including tuition and fees for fall, winter, or spring. Undergraduates and graduating seniors can apply for a 3- to 6-month fellowship. Some additional funds are available for project development. These fellowships are reserved for students working on projects that are past the idea stage, as they are intended to support implementation. The application deadline for the 2017 summer fellowship is June 11. UCSC has also been awarded a 5-year NSF I-Corps Site grant which provides funding for student teams working on STEM innovations. We welcome students from colleges and universities throughout the Santa Cruz area to participate in both the IDEA Hub and NSF I-Corps Site programs.

Community participation welcome

Community Members are welcome to propose problems via our web portal that they would like IDEA Hub teams to work on and may join these teams to design and implement solutions.

For more information about IDEA Hub, its fellowships, and resources, visit For more information about CIED and the NSF I-Corps Site program, visit


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