Interested in Starting a Company based on UI technology?

Technologies developed at the University of Iowa (UI) have the potential to affect millions of lives and positively impact society. Sometimes, the best way for a new technology to be commercialized is through the creation of a new company based around that innovation.  

The UI has a dedicated team to assist faculty, staff and students interested in forming a start-up company.  These inventors are encouraged to reach out to UI Ventures, who will support the creation of the new start-up and ongoing commercialization efforts.

In addition, UIRF has curated a list of resources for interested inventors. Please review our process below and the resources available  on campus, statewide, and at federal level. Feel free to reach out directly to any of the licensing staff with specific questions. 

How UIRF works with UI Entrepreneurs

1. Meet to discuss first steps and path to licensing.

2. Review licensing and conflict of interest (COI) obligations.

3. Discuss UIRF and external resources. 

4. Negotiate and draft agreements with start-up.

5. Review post-execution compliance and ongoing relationship with UIRF.

UI Resources

UI Ventures supports the commercialization of innovative University of Iowa technology through spinouts with the goal of enhancing economic development as an extension of research and scholarship.

JPEC Venture Mentoring links entrepreneurial ventures with experienced mentors. Entrepreneurs meet with a team of volunteer mentors in ongoing, confidential meetings. Mentors commit to avoiding conflict of interest and strict confidentiality.

Master the startup process with a premier statewide Venture School, an innovative training program focused on real-world experimentation, customer discovery, and Lean LaunchPad methodologies. This program uses the official National Science Foundation I-Corps curriculum to help high-potential startups turn their ideas into reality.

Iowa JPEC's NSF I-Corps Workshop is designed to provide University of Iowa faculty, staff, and students with an opportunity to develop marketable ideas and accelerate the startup process.  This workshop will give participants an introduction to the Lean Launchpad methodology and familiarize them with the Business Model Canvas and customer discovery. 

Established in 1989, The University of Iowa Research Park leases building sites and space to growing technology companies that require sustained research relationships with the UI. As well as leasing land and buildings, the Research Park is home to a world class business incubator program that has nurtured nearly 100 UI spinouts and other new ventures since its start.

Protostudios is a state-of-the-art rapid-prototyping facility with the main office and 3d printing hub located at MERGE, Pedestrian Mall Iowa City, the Anatomical and Medical Device Printing Bureau at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and the Machining Operations at Van Allen Hall. One-Stop Shop that assists Iowa's entrepreneurs, inventors, startups, educational and medical faculty, staff, and students by converting napkin sketches to functional prototypes.

The  Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers many resources to small business owners, as well as services tailored to fit their needs. SBDC workshops are held nearly every weekday at various locations throughout Iowa.

State and Federal Resources

Since 1994, the Iowa Biotechnology Association (IowaBio) has provided benefits and services to promote the interests and growth of the life sciences industries in Iowa. IowaBio is a non-profit, membership-based organization that represents companies across the state committed to advancing biotech in human and animal health, food and agriculture, and biofuels and the environment.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority's (IEDA) mission is to strengthen economic and community vitality by building partnerships and leveraging resources to make Iowa the choice for people and business. Through two main divisions – business development and community development – IEDA administers several state and federal programs to meet its goals of assisting individuals, communities and businesses. IEDA works to achieve its mission and goals to benefit Iowans while maintaining a high level of transparency.

Entrepreneurial Development Center (EDC) is a non-profit business accelerator formed in 2003 to help Iowa-based companies succeed. EDC is unique in its ability to provide tailored, hands-on professional support and direction for clients. While working with both emerging and existing businesses, EDC supports the development and commercialization of new products, services and technologies.

BioConnect Iowa’s goal is to support  pioneers in their pursuit of excellence and national and international recognition. Our team is working with innovators and entrepreneurs statewide to deliver homegrown resources that are second to none. Iowa’s flywheel is a cohesive collection of these resources, designed to meet the needs of startups and entrepreneurs at every level.

Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA), supported by ISA Ventures and powered by NewBo Co, is a robust resource for Iowa-based startup businesses. No matter what type of business (local retail, national scale-up, SaaS, marketplace, ed-tech, med-tech, fin-tech, ag-tech, consumable, service, etc.). No matter what stage of start-up (ideation, early MVP/Beta, pre-revenue, pre-seed, seed, or series A) ISA and NewBo Co would like to help.

The Iowa Venture Capital Associate (IVCA) is a non-profit organization with 30 member companies who influence and contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the State of Iowa.

Educational Resources

Established in 2009 by experienced investors, OUP invests in startups developing pioneering technologies in partnership with the top universities and research institutions in the US and abroad. They offer free webinars on a variety of topics for interested entrepreneurs.  We recommend there Startup Licensing 1010 series:

Y Combinator is a startup accelerator based in California that was launched in 2005. Over the past 15 years, they’ve created many videos, podcasts, and essays as resources for startup founders and have consolidated them in the YC Startup Library.

University Lab Partners was founded in partnership with the University of California Irvine Beall Applied Innovation. Their resource center is an extensive library of articles, videos, and tools for life science innovators to help achieve startup success.

The University of Iowa is a proud member of the National Academy of Inventors, an organization dedicated to recognizing and encouraging academic innovation. As such, UI faculty, staff and students have access to a number of unique educational materials including a course on intellectual property and a mentoring system. 

UI Funding and Competitions for Start-Ups

The Innovation Challenge will bring $225,000 in total funding during the 2022-23 academic year across the University of Iowa's campus. The Challenge is a university-wide competition with the goal to identify, advance and support the most innovative and entrepreneurial projects on campus.

*Application deadline is in late March

The John Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition contest is intended to encourage and promote entrepreneurial activity and create greater awareness of the resources available to entrepreneurs in Iowa. We encourage innovative, new ventures to participate. Judges selected by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers will review all submissions. Participants will be judged on the basis of their written submissions and, for participants who advance to later rounds, presentations to the judges.

UI Ventures offers early stage GAP funding to several colleges across campus.