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Innovation EXPO 2012 Attracted Energized Crowd and Highlighted Importance of Entrepreneurs to Iowa Economy

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA—SEPTEMBER 19, 2012—Innovation EXPO 2012 drew a crowd of over 550 entrepreneurs, inventors, investors, business and community leaders from across the state throughout the day-long event held Tuesday, September 18 at the Coralville Marriott. The second annual EXPO was comprised of multiple events that provided educational and networking opportunities for Iowa-based, high-growth-potential businesses at all stages. Innovation EXPO was co-hosted by Technology Association of Iowa (TAI), University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC), Iowa Capital Investment Corporation and EDC, Inc.
EDC, Inc. President & CEO, Curt Nelson, acknowledged the implications that the event has for the area’s business community. “Innovation EXPO is a unique opportunity for our area, fast-growing and innovative businesses to network with each other and develop partnerships that could help them scale at a faster rate. It is also a chance for established business leaders to meet these entrepreneurs and learn more about new products and technologies being developed right here in Iowa. Most importantly, the EXPO is an opportunity to celebrate these innovators and risk takers who are responsible for building the businesses that make up a healthy economic ecosystem.”

The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) hosted Pitch & Grow VI where 14 Iowa entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to panels of business experts for feedback. At the end of the day, a “pitch off” was held with early-stage company Telepharm, winning first place and then presenting to the panel in the Seed and Venture Forum.

Ten Iowa businesses presented their businesses to a panel of 10 seed and venture capital experts from across the state and Midwest at Iowa Capital Investment Corporation’s Seed and Venture Forum.

A total of 50 Iowa-based entrepreneurs and inventors exhibited at the EDC Entrepreneur Showcase. This year, the Showcase was expanded to include: Inventor’s Garage, Ventures@UI and Startup Fair sections that featured entrepreneurs as various stages of the business cycle.  Attendees walked through the Showcase and met with these innovators to see first-hand some of the exciting products, technologies and services being developed in Iowa.

Attendees and exhibitors found value in the networking opportunities within the Showcase. “Those three hours were exactly what every startup is starving for. The room was filled with highly motivated and very qualified people who love to help to create and innovate,” Galen Crozier, Inventor and Exhibitor.
Grass Run Farms, Dorchester, IA, was presented with the People’s Choice Award at the end of the Showcase. Attendees selected their choice for the exhibitor with the best business opportunity and the best presentation/communication at their booth. This year’s People’s Choice Award was sponsored by Tallgrass Business Resources.
“We’re honored to have won the People’s Choice Award. It’s humbling to know both that what you’re doing is resonating with a community of your peers, AND that there exists such a great network of mentorship and camaraderie for entrepreneurialism in our part of the state/country,” Kristine Jepsen, Owner, Grass Run Farms.

Innovation EXPO 2012 was supported by the following sponsors:

Principal Sponsor: Iowa Economic Development Authority
Major Sponsors: Bankers Trust, Kirkwood Training & Outreach Services and University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
Supporting Sponsors: Bradley & Riley PC, CMA Ventures, Corridor Business Journal and University of Iowa Research Foundation

Breads from Anna
Cellular Engineering Technologies
Grass Run Farms
Lionne Designs
Ovation Networks
Premier Guitar
Ready Wireless
Simply Soothing
The Patient Education Institute
VIDA Diagnostics

Startup Fair
Bandwidth Pool
Far Reach
Hazard Mitigation
KB Productions
Kivetta Software
Koala Pay
Media Stop
Sassi Bands
Terpenoid Therapeutics

FxRedux Solutions
Iowa Approach
Iowa Centers For Enterprise
Needle Analytics

Inventor’s Garage
Car Bidet
Cush N’ Coat
Direct Drive Energy
InCab Designs
Iowa Inventor’s Group

About EDC
The Entrepreneurial Development Center was incorporated in 2003 as a community-sponsored, non-profit business accelerator. The company provides economic growth through the development and expansion of entrepreneurial enterprises and has successfully assisted over 500 Iowa-headquartered businesses. Its focus is on creating local wealth for area re-investment by growing and cultivating regional, national, and international businesses.