Innovation Challenge

Sunstone Innovation Challenge

Take the Sunstone Innovation Challenge

The Sunstone Innovation Challenge at CSULB is coming back for 2021-2022. The Sunstone Innovation Challenge is an annual campus-wide business plan competition. We are looking for diverse teams to develop, promote and launch sustainable, entrepreneurial and innovative business ideas through the presentation of a well-crafted business plan that address the core concepts of Desirability, Viability, and Feasibility. The winning team receives support for their business, including $15,000 in seed funding, and space, marketing, legal and accounting services totaling up to $35,000. 


2021-2022 Schedule

  • Letter-of-intent submission (submit to – soft deadline October 1st
  • Mentor Assignment – October
  • Business Plan Submission – Monday, February 14th
  • Semifinalist Announced – Friday, March 4th
  • Semifinalist Teams Pitch – Thursday, March 10th
  • Revised Business Plans Submitted – Friday, March 18th
  • Finalist Announced – Friday, April 1st
  • Finalist Pitch Event – Thursday, April 14th

*subject to change

Congratulations to Past Winning Teams

2020-2021: Two startups, Vitalink and Unwind (pictured, below) landed first and second place in 2020-2021 Sunstone Innovation Challenge. Read more HERE

Sunstone Innovation Challenge 20-21 winners pictured here in front of the Cal State Long Beach sign

2019-2020: Two startups, PeriDeals (pictured, below) and White Rabbit, beat out over 40 teams to land first and second place in the 2020 Sunstone Innovation Challenge. Read about other winning teams.

PeriDeals founders


Past Dates & Judges

Important Dates 2020-2021

Feb. 15: Business Plan Due (First round)
March 1: Semifinalists Announced 
March 15: Revised Business Plans Due
March 29: Finalists Announced
April 7 (4:30pm - 7:00pm): Finalist Pitches via Zoom

Apostle Incubator 2021 Meetings

Jan 19 – “Reconnect, Update & Thinking”
Jan 26 – "Prototyping & Technology"
Feb 2 – "Pricing your Product/Service" 
Feb 9 – "Shared Decision Making"
Feb 16 – "Funding your Startup"
Feb 23 – "Sharing Ownership"
Mar 2 – "Social & Digital Marketing"
Mar 9 – "Branding"
Mar 16 – "Pitching your Business" 
Mar 23 – "Intellectual Property Protection"
Apr 6 – "eCommerce Strategies"
Apr 13 – "Legal Structures"
Apr 20 – "PitchFest Competition"
Apr 27 – "LB Opportunities & Ecosystem Mixer"
May 4 – "Creating an Inclusive Culture"
May 11 – "Coaching & Wellness Revisited"
*program is subject to change

2020-2021 Final Round Judges

Dan Abir

Dan Abir Headshot

Mr. Abir is an experienced Sales and Marketing Executive and has spent his 25-year career in various Sales, Marketing and Business development roles. Currently he is Director of Sales and Marketing at M4 Engineering and also a Mentor at Long Beach Accelerator. During his tenure at M4 and prior to that he has worked with many startups in Aerospace, Automotive, Renewable Energy and Biotechnology. In 2009 he founded Tribal Engineering a Premier Business Partner and reseller of various Engineering software tools. Mr. Abir has always been a proponent of STEM and is actively working with local High Schools and Universities supporting their Engineering and related clubs’ activities. He has also actively been involved in the International Masters in CAE program helping develop and promote the program both in the US and globally. Prior to joining M4, Mr. Abir was Director of Portfolio Marketing for Siemens PLM.

Sue Malone

Sue Malone headshot

Doug Patton

Doug Patton

Doug Patton is a consummate inventor whose work has spanned over four decades, his efforts generating products in over 20 markets ranging from biomedical equipment to fragrance. He has garnered over 200 patents and design awards in having innovated for companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz, and Bausch & Lomb. Patton Design, his company, currently serves as the genesis of many products sold worldwide.

Doug is particularly proud of his time innovating solutions at the United States Patent Trademark Office; he also fondly remembers being the featured inventor in the ABC American Inventor series, in which he won the million-dollar prize through America’s vote. Though these efforts have created revolutionary innovation, when asked what his greatest invention is, Doug responds with an acknowledgment of the problem-solving process he created over decades spent learning the ins and outs of creativity, the result of Doug’s new book Conquering the Chaos of Creativity.

Joe Platnick

Joe PlatnickJoe is a Southern California-based Angel investor and Director Emeritus of the Pasadena Angels, one of the largest angel groups in the US that provides long-term human and financial capital to early-stage technology companies. Founded in 2000, Pasadena Angels has provided over $75 million of early stage capital to over 195 companies. He is also Executive Board member for Systems Technology Inc., a research and engineering consulting company that provides advanced products and services to the military and aerospace and healthcare industries. 

Prior to Systems Technology Joe was the CEO of FutureBound, an educational video game developer founded at the University of Southern California focused on developing college readiness and access skills for underserved middle- and high-school youth. He was also a Partner with Pan Pacific Capital Ltd. With offices in New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Taiwan and the US, the firm provides Venture Capital financing for the Digital Media, Life Sciences and Cleantech/Renewables sectors.

Joe’s career has included executive, board, and sales/marketing management positions with Fortune 500 and startup companies and has been a frequent lecturer/speaker and blogger on entrepreneurship for many local and international organizations and events.

Brenda Wunsch

Brenda WunschBrenda has played a role in launching startups for the past 20 years leading initiatives for funding, business development, branding, staffing and sales, and marketing programs. Brenda began her career in advertising and marketing. In her 20s, she started an ad agency in Seattle, WA, and experienced such great success she opened a second office in Long Beach, CA.

Previously, Brenda was CEO of Sandpiper, Co-Founder & CEO of OnQ Corporation (Pet Central), OnQ Media now, and Ventura Marketing and Ventura Ventures. Her experience includes local, national, and international clients. She has also developed strong comprehensive marketing and branding services for Fortune 500 organizations such as the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, MGM, Silver Crest Entertainment, The Wall Street Journal, Service Corporation International, and others tech companies. She has been a CMO, CRO, President, and CEO.

Former President Critiquelt Inc., A local Long Beach Educational software company, sold to a public company.

Former Chief Revenue Officer Scoutbee, a company the raised 76M in 18 Months & 10M in sales.

Co-CEO SapphireRCMS LLC, A Local Long Beach Health Tech Saas software company

Board member of  LBA, Board member CSULB IIE, LB economic development commissioner.