Developing an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Developing an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

AS SEEN IN THE CSU – While each of the 23 universities in the California State University system offers a degree in business, they also offer activities and programs outside the classroom that enable students from all disciplines to launch their idea or company before they even cross the commencement stage.

The CSU is strengthening its systemwide network of support for budding businesspeople, enabling faculty and staff to share best practices for supporting students and creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem—the sharing of talent, information and resources—that blankets the state.

Learn about this work and how it benefits California’s business economy.


For the first time in its history, the CSU invited students from across the state to compete in a systemwide business pitch competition in spring 2023, gathering nearly 100 of its top student innovators and entrepreneurs and connecting them with funds to launch or grow their fledgling companies.

Thirty-six student teams from 18 universities competed in the inaugural Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition, hosted by San José State, to pitch ideas that address some of today’s major issues, like food scarcity, fentanyl misuse and hiring challenges.

Many of the business ideas were born out of various startup incubator programs on CSU campuses which provide valuable mentoring, networking and professional development opportunities to help students prepare for pitches and presentations to investors.

The Startup Launch Competition was funded in large part by Sunstone Management, a diversified private capital firm with a long history of supporting entrepreneurial activity at the CSU.

“The founders of Sunstone Management believe the CSU system, with its 23 great universities and nearly 460,000 creative and talented students, will be responsible for creating several new technology startups that will shape the future of California’s economy,” says Sunstone CEO John Keisler.

Fifteen student teams took home a total of $200,000 in prize money provided by Sunstone, who announced at the awards ceremony a five-year, $1 million commitment to the university to support the competition and continue promoting the pursuit of business innovation.

“Being able to tap into and support the brain power and energy of students and professors in the CSU system is both our honor and duty,” Keisler says.

Ganesh Raman, associate vice chancellor of research at the CSU Chancellor’s Office, says the annual competition also brings students and campuses together to share ideas, adding that this collaboration is crucial to strengthening the university’s entrepreneurship network and promoting cross pollination.

See what three first-place winners of the Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition say about the support they received from the university at the link.

© Sunstone Management Inc.

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About Sunstone Management

Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital management firm with headquarters in Southern California that provides a range of early-stage venture capital, real estate, and fixed income to qualified and accredited investors. The firm delivers new and exciting options for economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships, making use of its unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. Ranked 18th in the United States on the list of most active venture capital firms by PitchBook.

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