New CDI initiative a game changer

Posted: November 4th, 2016 | Columnists, Downtown Partnership News, Featured | No Comments

By Kris Michell

Surviving in today’s competitive tech startup scene isn’t easy and thriving is even more difficult. Fostering an inclusive environment for Downtown’s increasing number of innovative entrepreneurs will grow our regional economy, encourage collaboration, and offer meaningful opportunities to San Diegans.

For this reason, the Downtown San Diego Partnership and UC San Diego Extension have launched the Collaboratory for Downtown Innovation, or CDI. This two-year initiative is designed to support and strengthen Downtown’s blossoming tech ecosystem.

CDI offers a variety of programs to help entrepreneurs develop the networks critical for future growth, as well as provide business support and workforce training.

The Game Changers series is one of the many programs offered through the initiative. Last month, in our third edition of the series, two recent UCSD graduates joined us to share their challenging transformations from student to startup entrepreneur in San Diego’s innovation economy.

Andy Kieatiwong, founder and CEO of Additive Rocket Corporation, presented on his company’s precision manufacturing of rocket engines using 3-D printing. Steve McCloskey, founder and CEO of Nanome Inc., discussed how he and his team design molecules with virtual reality for new medicines, materials and machines. These inspiring young engineers are poised to make real impacts on their emerging tech sectors — not only in San Diego, but across the globe.

This month’s Game Changers event features Todd Hylton, a professor of practice, electrical and computer engineering and the executive director of Contextual Robotics Institute. Hylton most recently served as executive vice president of strategy and research at Brain Corporation, a San Diego-based robotics startup. A scientist and entrepreneur who has been awarded with 19 patents for his inventions, Hylton certainly has unique insights to share with CDI guests.

The Collaboratory for Downtown Innovation is focused on tapping into the talent and expertise at UCSD — and in the research institutions on the Torrey Pines Mesa — to promote the opportunities available to companies in Downtown’s growing tech sector.

The Downtown Partnership is proud to collaborate with UCSD and Dr. Mary Walshok’s team and we are thrilled to be part of fulfilling CDI’s mission to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in our urban core.

 —Kris Michell is the president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, a member-based nonprofit organization that oversees the Clean & Safe program and serves as the leading advocate for the revitalization and economic health of Downtown. For questions or comments, email

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