Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Innovation Quest (iQ)

Innovation Quest (iQ) empowers and supports innovators and entrepreneurs to build interdisciplinary teams to go from ideas to prototypes to companies. iQ is designed to encourage innovators to pursue their ideas and help with the funding needed to launch their business. This is an opportunity for entrepreneurial-minded students to showcase what they’ve built, coded, designed or prototyped throughout their efforts at Cal Poly.

Founded in 2004 by Cal Poly graduates and business leaders, Carson Chen (Electrical Engineering, ’73), Richard Boberg (Electrical Engineering, ’70), and Laura Pickering (Electrical Engineering, ’84), iQ has already awarded more than $350,000 in support of Cal Poly innovators and entrepreneurs who have used the program as a platform to launch successful businesses.

This year’s Innovation Quest competition is canceled due to the coronavirus.  

2019 Prizes

$15,000:   1st Place Innovation Award
$10,000:   2nd Rich and Jackie Boberg Innovation Award
$6,300:    3rd Place Prize 

2019 Winners

1st Place Innovation Award: Buteo -technology uses autonomous fixed-wing drones that will help vineyard managers and berry farmers protect their crops from birds and gain data feedback on the health of their vines.

2nd Place Rich and Jackie Boberg Innovation Award: Santronics – provides an automated, adaptable and caregiver-oriented hand hygiene compliance monitoring system for hospital infection control teams.

3rd Place Award: HealthBlock and Tulum Cosmetics tied for the third-place prize.

HealthBlock – is a code-free platform allowing health researchers to create and deploy remote studies while securely connecting them with consenting participants.

Tulum Cosmetics – is a direct-to-consumer brand of matte liquid lipstick containing the medical treatment to heal and conceal cold sores.

Innovators and entrepreneurs from all of the colleges at Cal Poly have successfully competed in iQ
and formed companies, with many remaining involved and giving back to the program that helped them when they were students.

View Past Award Winners Find Upcoming iQ Events

For additional information or questions about the competition please contact the faculty director, Thomas Katona, at

To get involved with Innovation Quest as a supporter or mentor or to donate to this program please contact Cory Karpin, director of development, at (805) 756-5171 or