School:University of Iowa

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University of Iowa is one of the pioneering education institutions in Entrepreneurship nationwide. Based on the survey sent to schools administrators at more than 2,000 institutions from April to June in 2013, University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) is ranked #21 on the Princeton Review’s list of “Top 25 Undergraduate Schools for Entrepreneurship Programs for 2014”.                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship  

By partnering with the College of Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Medicine, JPEC created a cross-campus program to reach all University of Iowa students, regardless of their field of study. JPEC's goals include "fulfilling the entrepreneurial educational and support needs of all University of Iowa students, faculty and staff; working with University organizations and statewide institutions to provide entrepreneurial education and outreach services to aspiring Iowa entrepreneurs; and teaching and inspiring entrepreneurship in Iowa youth" (

All UI students may earn a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management in addition to their undergraduate degree. Business students may opt for the BBA in Management with an Entrepreneurial Management track. Likewise, engineering students may choose to earn the Technological Entrepreneurial Certificate, while art students have the opportunity to earn a Performing Arts Entrepreneurial Certificate. JPEC also endorses certificates for graduate students. Applied studies graduate students can earn a Bachelor of Applied Studies Entrpreneuriship Certificate and graduate students can earn a MBA Concentration in Entrepreneurship if their studies are interdisciplinary and have advanced applications in the fields of medicine, business, engineering, and computer science. In order to obtain the certificate, students have to finish an average of 18 semester hours of credit from varying entrepreneurial course levels. A variety of academic offerings allows students to choose customized entrepreneurial education according to their interests and backgrounds.

Entrepreneurship in the University of Iowa goes beyond academic records. JPEC also provides students a wealth of opportunities and resources for hands-on entrepreneurial experience.  JPEC holds regular events to invite local and national entrepreneur speakers to share their own experiences. For example, JPEC hosts the annual Hawkeye Innovation Summit which includes keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and inspiration to student entrepreneurs. Along with its various events, JPEC also offers multiple well-equipped office spaces for student entrepreneurs and many seed grant opportunities such as business plan and elevator pitch competitions. 

Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Faculty leadership in entrepreneurship is as important as student involvement. All JPEC faculty have great experience in entrepreneurship and some are still running their own entrepreneurial ventures. In order to continue to improve the effectiveness of the current certificate program, they already started restructuring the program. Also, many faculty in each of the colleges on The University of Iowa campus are doing some sort of research or collaboration effort towards innovation. For example,Radoslaw "Radek" Goska, who works in Hydroscience and Engineering, won the Staff Research Award for the College of Engineering and the University of Iowa faculty, as a whole, was recognized by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for the first time. A new generation of innovation and creativity is stemming from the faculty at The University of Iowa.

University Technology Transfer Function

In order to push entrepreneurship at University of Iowa to the deeper ground, two innovation and commercialization bases, University of Iowa Research Foundation and University of Iowa Research Park were established to facilitate technology marketing and licensing. Iowa Centers for Enterprise, part of both bases, play a central role that connects JPEC to technology transfer office. One good example is, Iowa Medical Innovation Group (IMIG), a two – semester interdisplinary program that introduces students 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.  The University of Iowa Research Park offers researchers access to a state-of-the-art business incubator and can also help entrepreneurs find students who are interested in their research. Additionally,the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory (BELL) provides qualified students free office space and mentorship to further their ventures.

University-Industry Collaboration

With the great effort by University of Iowa entrepreneurial organizations, academics and industry have never been close like today. Many academics programs are deeply involved in the real-world industry operations. For example, the Business Consulting course gathers student teams to provide consulting services to industry members with operating issues, resulting in close relationships between students and clients. Students are often offered positions before graduation. On the other hand, many faculty teach in JPEC while still holding positions in industry, bringing firsthand experience into class.

The connection between university and industry is further strengthened by multiple annual events. Hawkeye Innovation Summit and Innovation EXPO provide great opportunity for crosstalk between student startup teams and industry investors. Also, students can enroll in a Six Week Start-Up program where they are given the tools to bring their ideas to market through collaboration with many innovators in industry. Learn more about these programs and others at

Regional and Local Economic Development Efforts

University of Iowa also plays an important role in the Iowa-based technology and high-growth start-up companies. According to the State government of Iowa, exciting biosciences advancements are being made at University of Iowa research facilities:

  • The University of Iowa’s (UI) Institute for Clinical and Translational Science works to accelerate discoveries from bench to bedside and was recently recognized by the National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • The unveiling of the John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building and the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Institute at UI
  • The development of the BioVenture building at the UI research park in Coralville—a major facility dedicated to the development and incubation of bioscience, biotechnology and biomedical companies
  • The Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa plans to open in Fall 2015 and will house a floor dedicated to STEM education
  • The Seaman Center for Engineering building expansion plans include a central "maker space" that promotes creative, hands-on innovation for students

Regional economic development efforts can also be seen in the high level consulting services: Entrepreneurial Management Institutes and Business Solution Center. Past clients include GE Healthcare, John Deere, Bestbuy and US Bank etc.  JPEC also holds the idea that innovation can occur at any age. One affiliate, Jacobson Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship provides statewide K-12 students access to a wide variety of practical experiences.



Total Rate for Culture of I&E: 9/10

What can we do better?

Due to geographical and logistic reasons, students from College of Medicine, Engineering as well as other strong innovative schools are scattered all over the city. It can be expected to have a higher engagement of all students once the entrepreneurial program can reach further to each department.  

Links relating to University of Iowa Research:

1. JPEC:

2. University of Iowa Research Park:

3. University of Iowa Research Foundation:

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University of Iowa Student Priorities