In this stage, entrepreneurs establish and formalize the company, develop the product, get feedback from customers, and prepare for the next step.
Startup law firms & banks that specialize in helping new companies
Co-working and startup workspaces.
Coworking + Incubation Space
CoWork @ 808 (coworking) – Coralville: CoWork @ 808 in Coralville offers private offices and open coworking space in North Liberty.
CoWork Collective (coworking) – downtown Iowa City: Cowork Collective is a cozy, collaborative workspace in Downtown Iowa City above Java House. They have 2 open coworking areas (space for approximately 20-25 people to work), 3 private offices, and a conference room that can accommodate 10-20.
IC Colab North Liberty: the IC Colab in North Liberty offers private offices and open coworking space in North Liberty.
MERGE (coworking + office space) – downtown Iowa City: MERGE is a coworking space and hub for innovation in the heart of downtown Iowa City.
University of Iowa: Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory: The BELL provides students with all the basic resources needed to start a business. Students have access to private offices, high-speed wireless connection, an executive conference room, as well as co-working spaces.
University of Iowa Research Park: The University of Iowa Research Park leases building sites and space to growing technology companies that require sustained research relationships with the UI.
Accounting, CPAs, development, and HR resources for early-stage startups.
Prepare for Seed
Startup incubators and advanced mentorship.
Community Incubation Programs
Black in Business Incubator Program: Incubator program focused on helping new and startup companies to develop by providing services such as product development and rapid prototyping services, management training, office space, access to angel investors or venture capital resources, and other support services. This business incubator program emphasizes on entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds. Learn more here.
NewBo Market (food + retail): NewBo Market in Cedar Rapids offers a space for entrepreneurs to develop, scale up, and launch their new business. Both storefronts and temporary pop-up spaces are available. Learn more here.
Venture School: 7-week innovative training program focused on real-world experimentation, customary discovery, and Lean LaunchPad methodologies to help high-potential startups turn their ideas into reality. Learn more here.
University of Iowa Incubation Programs
Hawkeye Startup Accelerator: 11-week summer program for University of Iowa students to launch their startup using Lean LaunchPad methodologies.
UI Innovators Workshop: 3-week version of Ventures School designed to provide University of Iowa faculty, staff, and students with the opportunity to develop marketable ideas and accelerate the startup process.
UI Incubate Program: The Incubate Program is designed for UI spinout companies and groups still in the discovery phase to solidify a business strategy and begin to align their technology with an appropriate market.
UI Accelerate Program: Spinouts in the Accelerate Program have demonstrated commitment to driving their company forward quickly but are generally pre-revenue and pre-investment. These are some of our most promising early stage companies and UI Ventures works very closely with these companies to secure an appropriate business team and prepare for funding or revenue.
UI Advance Program: Spinouts in the Advance Program have secured initial outside investment and are self-supporting. Most of these companies are located near (but not on) campus. UI Ventures supports Advance companies through introductions to our network as needed, assisting in interactions with the university (UIRF, clinical trials, sponsored research, access to core facilities, etc.), highlighting their achievements, and helping to hire student interns and recent alums.
IMIG (Iowa Medical Innovation Group): 2-semester interdisciplinary program that introduces you to all phases of medical device/technology development. Students from the colleges of Business, Engineering, Law, and Medicine collaborate in a real-world environment to identify a medical need, create a solution, and move it through the development and commercialization process.
Seed funding mentorship programs.
Community Seed Accelerators
Iowa EdTech Accelerator: Intensive, highly focused 14-week program aimed at early stage (pre- or early-revenue) companies. Startups must be located in Iowa.
Iowa Startup Accelerator: Intensive, highly focused 14-week program aimed at early stage (pre- or early-revenue) companies. Startups must be located in Iowa.
TechStars Iowa: Techstars partnered with Grinnell College and other top universities in Iowa to offer early stage startups coaching, mentoring, connecting, initial funding and further support with fundraising.
University of Iowa Seed Accelerators
Venture School: 7-week innovative training program focused on real-world experimentation, customary discovery, and Lean LaunchPad methodologies to help high-potential startups turn their ideas into reality.
Pitch & Demo
Showcases for local startups to present to investors.
1 Million Cups: Startups + small businesses give a 6-minute (okay, sometimes longer…) presentation about their business + receive feedback from the crowd.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to pitch/demo your business or product.
Funding opportunities for startups and small business as they initially launch
Iowa City Area Funding
ECICOG Business Assistance Revolving Loan Fund: The ECICOG Revolving Loan Fund is a loan pool established by the East Central Iowa Council of Governments to assist new and existing businesses within our six county region develop and expand. Any new or expanding business in Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn, or Washington Counties can apply.
Fund Iowa: A Johnson County fund coming soon!
ISA Ventures: If accepted into the Iowa Startup Accelerator, you’ll receive: for pre-revenue companies: $25k in initial capital and potentially an additional $75k if milestones are met; for revenue-generating companies, negotiable terms for capital from $25k to $1 million
Johnson County Entrepreneurial Match Fund:
Microloan Program for Small Businesses (City of Iowa City): The purpose of the MicroLoan Program is to provide low to moderate income persons with access to affordable loans to start or expand a business in Iowa City.
Small Business Resource Program (City of Iowa City): This program provides loans up to $10,000 at 0% interest for working capital, start-up costs, equipment and business expansion to income qualifying small businesses. The business must match the City loan amount with either cash on hand to invest in the business or a commercial loan. In addition, for those with an approved City loan, a technical assistance grant, up to $5,000, is provided for website development, payroll services, and/or accounting and tax services. Applicants may apply year-round. Funds available until depleted.
Demonstration Fund (IEDA): The Demonstration Fund is designed to provide assistance to companies with market-ready innovative technologies or products that have a clear potential for commercial viability. Awards are available up to $125,000 and are offered primarily in loans or royalty arrangements.
Innovation Fund (IEDA): The Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund promotes formation and growth of businesses that engage in the transfer of technology to competitive, profitable companies that create high-paying jobs. Funds are designed to accelerate the pace of market development, leverage private investment and industrial expansion efforts that result in significant capital investment. The fund provides financing to eligible businesses through two program components that correspond to different stages of growth for investment-grade, high-growth enterprises.
The Iowa Center Loan (the Iowa Center / TSB): Loans are available for up to $50,000 for established businesses and $30,000 for new businesses. Loan funds can be used for business improvements and expenses, including (but not limited to) the purchase of equipment, furnishings, inventory and specific operating expenses.
Proof of Commercial Relevance (IEDA): The Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) program is designed to define and articulate the opportunity for businesses that demonstrate a proof-of-concept for innovative technology. Awards up to $25,000 in low interest loans with a 1:2 (private:public) match.
SBIR/STTR Programs: The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR and STTR enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from its commercialization.
SBIR Support Program: Iowa Innovation Corporation provides access to SBIR consultants and matching funds for SBIR/STTR grants. This component of the program provides $25,000 to businesses that receive a Phase I award. The program also provides an additional $25,000 to those Phase I award winners that progress to submission of a Phase II application, irrespective of whether they’re awarded a Phase II grant.
Wellmark Rural Vitality Fund: Wellmark committed $5 million in venture capital to Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Renew Rural Iowa program. This program encourages business development and expansion in rural Iowa communities of less than 30,000 people.
Wellmark Venture Capital and Economic Development Program: The Early-Stage funding program encourages development of entrepreneurial ideas and keeps the resulting business and job creation in Iowa.
University of Iowa Funding
Carver College of Medicine GAP Fund: Carver College of Medicine is supporting the advancement of innovative technology through a GAP funding mechanism targeting medical devices and health software. CCOM faculty and staff are eligible to apply for GAP funding up to $60,000 per project. Projects require Chair support and department matching funds (5:1, CCOM:department).
The IC CoLab @ MERGE offers an open coworking space with benches, dedicated offices, conference rooms, large training room, business resources, community events, 3D printing, Wi-Fi powered by ImOn, free coffee, and much more!
Learn more about each location and membership plans:
Iowa City Area Development Group
The Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD)’s mission is to create,
collaborate, and act boldly to help build the economic future of our
community and be the best place for all people and businesses to THRIVE.
Thank you for making the Iowa City Colab classroom available to my IDT team this week for an offsite retreat. Time, attention, and focus are critical to any business. The Iowa City Colab was an ideal environment for our team to get away from the daily work routine and distractions, and focus on our most critical issues and opportunities.
The IC CoLab is different. It’s not just a great place to work; it’s the best place to grow. The IC Colab was Mazira’s introduction to the startup ecosystem. We made new connections, acquired new contracts and friendly advice is always just around the corner.
The Coralville CoLab is my permanent work place. I worked at home the past 5 years and I can’t explain how nice it is to get out of the house and be around great and intelligent people. The atmosphere is amazing and state of the art. Between good people, amazing office space you can’t ask for much more.