Hundreds of entrepreneurs and members of Iowa’s business community attended 5th annual event to network and celebrate entrepreneurialism
October 22, 2015 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Innovation EXPO 2015 drew the largest crowd in the event’s five-year history—just over 700 entrepreneurs, inventors, investors, business and community leaders from across the state (and beyond) attended the day-long event held Wednesday, October 21 at the Coralville Marriott. The 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 EDC, Inc., Technology Association of Iowa (TAI), University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC), and the newly founded Iowa Venture Capital Association.
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 Iowa’s 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 launching the businesses that will help shape Iowa’s economic future.”
EDC hosted a local SBA InnovateHER competition to kick-off the energy-filled day. Five entrepreneurs with products or services aimed at providing positive impact on women and families, presented to a panel of area business experts. AD RescueWear was selected as the winner and will be nominated for SBA’s consideration to present at the national competition in Washington D.C. in March 2016. AD RescueWear is the first and only US manufacturer of wet wrap therapy garments for childhood eczema.
The morning continued with Technology Association of Iowa’s (TAI) Pitch & Grow XXIII where 16 Iowa entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to panels of business experts for feedback. At the end of the morning, a “pitch off” was held with startup company SWINEGUARD, winning first place which included a $500 cash prize.
Eight Iowa entrepreneurs presented their businesses to a panel of 11 seed and venture capital experts from across the state and Midwest at IVCA’s Seed & Venture Forum. This year, the Seed & Venture Forum used Iowa City-based Pear Deck’s platform to foster audience participation.
A total of 90 Iowa-based entrepreneurs and inventors exhibited in the EDC Entrepreneur Showcase. The Showcase included: Inventor’s Garage, Ventures@UI and Startup Fair sections that featured entrepreneurs at various stages of the business cycle. New to the Showcase this year, was the Youth Innovators section that featured student innovators from Iowa BIG and Metro High School (Cedar Rapids). 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.
Handrail was presented with the People’s Choice Award at the end of the Showcase— Handrail is a research tool that helps turn data from customer interviews, concept testing and usability assessments into meaningful information. 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 EDC.
Innovation EXPO 2015 was sponsored by the following:
Principal Sponsor: Iowa Economic Development Authority
Major Sponsors: Bankers Trust, Iowa City Area Development Group, Kirkwood Training & Outreach Services,
UI JPEC and KGAN CBS2/FOX 28
Supporting Sponsors: Bradley & Riley PC, City of Cedar Rapids, City of Coralville, City of North Liberty, Corridor Business Journal, CMA Ventures, Iowa Fund of Funds and UI Ventures
Friends of the EXPO: Acumen, McGladrey, Next Level Partners and Renew Rural Iowa
EDC ENTREPRENEUR SHOWCASE EXHIBITORS:
David’s Famous Frozen Custard
EARLY AND MATURE STAGE
Iowa Fashion Project
Shaking Earth Digital
Men’s Style Lab
Creative Edge Mastershop
Viewpoint Molecular Targeting
National College Gaming Association
Q My Food
Playing is Learning
IOWA STARTUP ACCELERATOR
Home Scene Pro
Crane Creek Kayaks
WiFi Recycling Bin
100 Youth Who care
Augmented Reality Sandbox
Zero Myles Aquaponics
Made by Metro HS
Iowa Inventor’s Group
Ankh Data Systems
About the Entrepreneurial Development Center, Inc. (EDC) www.edcinc.org
EDC 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 nearly 700 Iowa-headquartered businesses. Its focus is on creating local wealth for area re-investment by growing and cultivating regional, national, and international businesses.