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Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, University of San Diego Launch Partnership to Increase Entrepreneurship and Grow Business Pipeline in 6 Communities


Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and University of San Diego President James T. Harris III, today announced the launch of an exciting new public-private partnership, “Innovate-Up.”

Designed to lift-up the communities of Chollas, City Heights, Encanto, Linda Vista, Rolando, and Redwood Village, the free Innovate-Up program will provide essential support and investment in local entrepreneurs, and business owners over several years.

“We introduced Innovate-Up to support the creative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit of San Diegans. Innovative products and new technologies don’t just come from people living in Silicon Valley; I believe we have that same caliber of an entrepreneur living in Encanto, Chollas, City Heights, Rolando, Redwood, and Linda Vista. Innovate-up will cultivate our homegrown talent, and help them to make a lasting impact on their community,” said County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

Studies have shown that thriving small businesses create thriving communities. When residents shop locally, neighborhoods and schools improve and so does the quality of life.

Innovate-Up is a completely free initiative funded in part by a $300,000 grant from The County of San Diego to the Brink Small Business Development Center at USD. “USD is pleased to supplement the County’s investment with a commitment of campus support for a combined $1.5 million in County and University resources,” said USD President James T. Harris III. “As an anchor institution, USD strongly believes in the promotion of localism and community-based entrepreneurship. At USD, it is our mission to help our neighbors and communities thrive.”

Innovate-Up tackles all verticals of success including ideation, business development, marketing, market fit, product development, product fit, finance, customer fit, investor relations, engineering, distribution, vendor development, and legal support. Combined with the collaboration of professional mentors, Innovate-Up is unique when compared to other programs because it will offer one-on-one consulting and small group intensive meetings led by industry leaders, County staff, and USD faculty.

How Innovate-Up Works

“Innovate-Up is more than a short-term incubator or accelerator,” said Mysty Rusk, executive director of the Brink at USD. “Our program will take a deep dive by supporting and investing in entrepreneurs and businesses from ideation to launch.”

On almost every Wednesday or Thursday starting August 22, 2019, with an Innovation Bootcamp from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at Malcolm X Library, 5148 Market St, San Diego, CA 92114, intensive small group meetings will be held in the six targeted communities. Each workshop will focus on the following:

  1. Start-up Business Basics – Ideation, formation, business plan, product development, patent and trademark assistance, market fit, product fit, and all things money.
  2. Business Scale-Up – Branding, marketing, alternate financing, crowd-sourcing, credit repair, building credit through innovative apps, seed money opportunities, San Diego Angel Conference, business plans, distribution, manufacturing guidance, growth strategies, and free office furniture.
  3. Small Business Certification – Obtain your veteran-owned, women-owned, minority-owned business certification. Also, learn how to bid on government and university contracts to become a supplier or vendor.
  4. Product Innovation Bootcamp – Idea exploration, market and product fit, product design, engineering, and prototype, manufacturing assistance, and, patent and trademark support.

Each topic and workshop will be available monthly, but it not a requirement to attend the workshops in succession. Community-members may choose a workshop(s) that interest them but are encouraged to attend the entire series.

Check out the workshop schedule by visiting, call 619-260-4547 or email

Innovate-Up Partners

Public-Private Partners: University of San Diego, the County of San Diego, the Office of Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and The Brink at the University of San Diego. Community Partners: The  San Diego & Imperial Valley Small Business Development Center (SDBC Network), The Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), and The International Rescue Committee (IRC). Community Collaborators: El Cajon Business Improvement Association, Access, and the Diamond Business Association.