Cal Poly Set to Expand Campus-Based Technology Park

The 30,000-square-foot project, which received a $6.7 million Economic Development Administration grant, will expand the footprint of the existing Tech Park, which opened in 2010

SAN LUIS OBISPO — With the support of a $6.7 million federal grant, Cal Poly has begun the expansion of the campus Cal Poly Technology Park. When completed, the project is expected to create 150 jobs and spur $20 million in private investment.

Jim Dunning, Cal Poly’s associate vice president of Corporate Engagement and Innovation, said the tech park expansion is a win-win-win for industry, students and the university.

“It is really rewarding to connect the interests of industry and our faculty and students. Our practical, Learn by Doing approach to learning and problem solving is directly aligned with industry interests,” Dunning said. “Our students can put their academic training to practical use locally, and companies realize immediate value and get the opportunity to build early connections with the workforce of the future.

“We are seeing high demand from industry for this type of engagement with our world-class faculty and students. As a result, we have started collecting nonbinding letters of intent to lease from our industry partners.” 

Dunning encouraged companies interested in joining the waitlist for tenancy within the Tech Park to email him at

The new 30,000-square-foot facility will expand the footprint of the existing Technology Park, located west of the campus core on Mount Bishop Road. Since its 2010 opening, more than 30 companies have resided in the Tech Park, employing or providing opportunities to over 200 students and contributing $16 million annually to the local economy.

Today, nine companies employ more than 100 high-tech professionals in the park, representing fields such as biotechnology, life sciences, aerospace and engineering, ag-tech, software, and clinical research. Since 2013, the Tech Park has been at 100 percent occupancy.

The university plans to break ground on the new facility next year, with an estimated completion in the spring of 2023.

“Building upon the success of the existing Technology Park, Cal Poly is planning the expansion of the park designed to encourage and facilitate innovation in an interdisciplinary environment that brings together students, faculty and businesses,” said Renee A. Reijo Pera, Cal Poly’s vice president of research and economic development.

“The expanded Technology Park will make propriety space available to Cal Poly industry partners aligning the university’s mission of student success and industry’s workforce and innovation needs,” added Pera, who leads efforts in advocating for research and scholarship while promoting the value of a diverse range of scholarly and applied research activities and industry relationships for faculty, staff and students.

The new facility will increase collaboration between the polytechnic university and industry, and enhances the ability of park tenants to draw from the expertise of Cal Poly faculty and students throughout its six colleges. The expanded facility will also provide space for faculty startups and opportunities for Cal Poly entrepreneurial faculty to engage in sponsored research and development activities with companies in the Tech Park.

The $6.7 million grant to the project was approved by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, with the federal funding to be matched with more than $4 million in local investment. The grant was approved under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress appropriated $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance Program funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; wildfires; and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the 32-year-old Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, whose district includes San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and a portion of Ventura County, said he was “proud to support this effort.”

“I am thrilled that Cal Poly is receiving this $6.7 million grant to fund the continued growth of the Cal Poly Technology Park,” Carbajal said. “The Technology Park is a hub of innovation that brings together the expertise of faculty, students and rising businesses, and it contributes to research and job opportunities in our region. Using this grant to expand the park will broaden opportunities for the Central Coast’s students, economy and future.”

In announcing the grant earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said that investing in infrastructure creates jobs for the American workforce.

“The expanded Cal Poly Technology Park will enable the region to become more resilient to the economic impact of flooding and mudslides by accelerating the growth of new businesses and strengthening the workforce,” he said.

Dana Gartzke, who is performing the delegated duties of the assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, said the grant will help the region weather future economic disruptions.

“EDA works diligently to keep businesses thriving, even in the face of unforeseen natural disasters,” Gartzke said. “EDA’s long history of successfully supporting recovery and resiliency efforts lends itself perfectly to increasing the Cal Poly Technology Park’s capacity to support technology-based businesses.”

About the Cal Poly Technology Park
The Cal Poly Technology Park is a home on campus for technology-based businesses – particularly firms engaged in applied research and development. The park increases collaboration between Cal Poly and industry and enhances the ability of park tenants to draw from the expertise of Cal Poly faculty and students.

About Cal Poly
Founded in 1901 and part of the renowned California State University system since 1960, Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, comprehensive polytechnic public university located in San Luis Obispo, California. Known for its Learn by Doing approach, small class sizes and open access to expert faculty, Cal Poly is a distinctive learning community whose 21,000 academically motivated students enjoy an unrivaled hands-on educational experience that prepares them to lead successful personal and professional lives. With nationally renowned educational programs in engineering and other technical fields and an emphasis in applied research, Cal Poly is uniquely positioned to be an engine of innovation, technology transfer, and high-tech economic development with our industry partners.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

Contact: Jim Dunning

April 8, 2020

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