Innovation Quest FAQ

Question: Do I have to be working on a technology company to compete?

Answer: No. You have to be working on something innovative that has market potential. Students regularly work on technical, business models, and new product innovations.

Question: I’m not that far along on my project yet, is it too early for me to apply to iQ?

Answer: We encourage all students that are working on innovative projects to apply. Even if you’re project is early stage, as a minimum the competition provides you an opportunity to get valuable feedback. In addition, we’ve had teams compete successfully at various stages of project maturity.

Question: Do you take equity in exchange for the prize money?

Answer: We do not take equity. The prize money comes from donors to the program that have a vision that by supporting entrepreneurial students like you, great companies will be formed that will one day provide ongoing support for the CIE and Innovation Quest.

Question: My idea is really proprietary. What protections do I have when competing in iQ?

Answer: Every year we work with students to enable them to present their ideas to the judges in a way that will not invalidate potential patents they are interested in filing. All of the judges and the CIE staff are committed to helping students to protect their innovations and any concerns should be addressed directly with our staff so we can support you throughout the process.

Question: Can I have people on my team that are not at Cal Poly?

Answer: Yes. We require that Cal Poly student(s) be core parts of the team, but you can definitely find and work with people outside of Cal Poly.

Question: I’m graduating in Winter Quarter, do you still consider me a Cal Poly student?

Answer: Yes, all students are eligible for Innovation Quest if they are or were a full-time student within the academic year of the competition (e.g. Fall – Spring).

Question: Who are the judges?

Answer: The judges for the preliminary applications include faculty, staff, alumni, CIE supporters, etc. We typically have 50-60 judges for the preliminary round of applications. For the finals, no CIE staff are involved in the judging and the judges are comprised of alumni, CIE supporters, and subject matter experts.

Question: Our team/company has already raised funding. Are we still eligible for iQ?

Answer: You are eligible for iQ as long as you have not taken in more than $100,000 in funding. This is aggregate funding of competition prize money, grants, convertible debt or SAFE notes, equity funding, etc. The reason for this limit is that we want the prize money to make an impact for each team that wins.