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UI Leaders Offer Bold Agenda for Economic Growth

Two University of Iowa leaders called for a new compact between government, academia, and industry in a presentation to members of the Iowa General Assembly.

Daniel Reed, UI vice president for research and economic development, and David Hensley, interim associate vice president for economic development, addressed the Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee today, Feb. 14. View slides from the presentation.

“The university is committed to a new, more robust partnership with the citizens of Iowa, state and local organizations, and our sister universities, bringing all of our assets to bear on the challenges ahead,” says Reed. “The world is changing, and so must the people’s university.”

Reed and Hensley framed their presentation to legislators by surveying an economic landscape characterized by rapid globalization; a mobile, global workforce; emerging economies in Asia; and rising competition for natural resources.

Faced with these challenges, universities should embrace business sensibilities and enhance technology transfer—commercializing new discoveries through licensing, patents, and startups. The UI also aims to establish research and development partnerships that target real-world business problems; accelerate entrepreneurship; and engage with partners across the state.

Reed and Hensley cited examples of recent UI economic developments accomplishments:

  • The UI Ventures program, which provides faculty, staff, and students with integrated resources for inventions and startups
  • 102 invention disclosures and 72 patent applications through the UI Research Foundation during fiscal year 2012, as well as a UI-Iowa State University Partnership that simplifies license terms
  • The opening of MediRevv at the UI Research Park, and a UI-Kirkwood Community College STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) center slated to open at the park in 2015
  • 44 student-run businesses at the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory during fiscal 2012
  • Business plan and startup competitions that drew more than 400 students, faculty, and staff
  • More than 6,700 hours of consulting to 51 Iowa companies through the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center

They also highlighted examples of student and faculty entrepreneurs, including 2012 UI graduates and Iowa natives Riley Gardam and Jacob Langenfeld, who founded the data-visualization firm Needle Analytics. The university is pursuing $7 million in funding to pave the way for other aspiring entrepreneurs.

The new UI strategic entrepreneurship initiative will prepare leaders, accelerate establishment of new companies, help existing companies expand, attract and retain talent, and create new partnerships that leverage assets and programs.

The goal: An innovative, collaborative, and ultimately transformative approach the boosts the state’s economy.

“From Sioux City to Keokuk, from Davenport to Council Bluffs, the University of Iowa will be there as an engaged and committed partner,” Reed says.


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