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Cal State LA vies for top spot in L.A. Mayor's Cup competition

December 6, 2016

Student teams compete to find solutions to civic challenges

Cal State LA is a finalist in the L.A. Mayor's Cup, a competition in which university students create innovative solutions to vexing civic problems.  

A team of Cal State LA students worked with the University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to develop the project for the competition. Under the direction of entrepreneur in residence, Barney Santos, and with support from Dean James Goodrich of the College of Business and Economics, the Center has provided the Cal State LA team with connections to industry mentors and training through a five-week intensive design thinking lab.

“The work being done by our students, under the mentorship of Barney Santos, exemplifies the energy and spirit of innovation that is flourishing at Cal State LA,” said Cal State LA Vice President Jose A. Gomez.

Nearly 100 teams from universities and colleges in Los Angeles County competed for a spot in the finals of the inaugural L.A. Mayor’s Cup. Mayor Eric Garcetti called the competition “an exciting opportunity for young entrepreneurs to help us solve the city’s toughest challenges.”

“We want to put your ideas to work,” Garcetti said in a video promoting the competition.

The Cal State LA team has proposed a traveling resource center that will connect small business owners with city resources. Using zero-emission vehicles, Small Business Strong will travel to businesses located in underserved neighborhoods. It will link small business owners with established resource centers, lending organizations and non-profits.

The team will pitch its project to Mayor Eric Garcetti, deputy mayors, and local business leaders in a live competition on Dec. 8. The grand prize winner will receive $25,000 and the opportunity to work with City Hall for eight weeks to develop their idea.

Cal State LA students Oscar Aguayo, Alex Lam, Elianne Rodriguez, and Martin Tejeda make up the Cal State LA team. The team members are part of the Entrepreneurial Collegiate Consulting Organization.

The L.A. Mayor’s Cup is a project of the MetroLab Network, a group of public-private partnerships focused on addressing urban challenges with new technology and policy approaches. Cal State LA and the City of Los Angeles are partners in the network. The partnership was established through the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which is housed under the College of Business and Economics. The MetroLab Network was launched in 2015 as part of the Obama Administration’s Smart Cities Initiative.

Photo: Left to right, Cal State LA students Oscar Aguayo, Alex Lam, Elianne Rodriguez, and Martin Tejeda working on their Small Business Strong project for the L.A. Mayor's Cup competition. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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Cal State LA is a university dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 27,000 students and 247,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the city we serve. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Cal State LA has long been recognized as an engine of economic and social mobility. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex, TV, Film and Media Center and the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. For more information, visit