Patrick Luensmann a senior manager at the Center for Business Growth and Innovation at the University of Northern Iowa, says categories include one for agriculture and animals, another for finances and insurance.
“We’ve got health & medical,” Luensmann says. “Health care is an ever-expanding industry and technology is advancing very quickly. It may be the next medical device or procedure or even around fitness and human health.” Other categories include: manufacturing, transportation and information technology. The goal, he says, is to get the idea ball rolling.
“There’s lots of great things that are happening, whether it’s through incubators or accelerators in the state, but the problem everybody was seeing is, how do we find the people with the new ideas?” Luensmann says. “How do we continue to create a culture of innovation in Iowa, where we can provide that support, help people take that first step and put their idea out there?”
People with ideas don’t need to present an in-depth business plan at this point. He says there are just some basic elements that have to be identified. “We’re really looking for what’s the problem you’re solving, what is your solution to said problem, who will buy it, what’s the market,” Luensmann says, “and what do you need in terms of timeline, help with technology or market research.”
Applicants will receive: Access to market information to determine market size, competition; advice and support from targeted service providers; opportunities to enhance valuable skills including business planning, promotion and social media; and expert pitch coaching to refine and perfect the idea delivery.
Finalists in each category will be notified April 19th. Those finalists will compete in a pitch-off in front of a panel of judges at EntreFEST in Iowa City on May 4th.