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New Iowa City Coworking Space Opens to Help Early-Stage Entrepreneurs

Officials with the University of Iowa's entrepreneurship center have had to make some tough choices the last two years. With entrepreneurship thriving at the school, a waiting list has formed at the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory.

That has meant leaders of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, which oversees Bedell, have had to be more selective in who's admitted to the student business incubator.

But officials say a new coworking space is the perfect spot for those left out of Bedell to build their early-stage companies.

"We have always managed (Bedell) by allowing the more serious students who are more further along in," said John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center acting director Lynn Allendorf. "We thought this would be a great place for really early-stage companies to go and work together."

The Thinc Innovation and Collaboration Lab opened in September and has been a hit ever since. Allendorf said officials have considered extending the space's hours to accommodate students who have requested that.

The space includes computers for student entrepreneurs to work on, a conference room, and a break room equipped with a pingpong table for "creative breaks."

The 5,000-square-foot space at the intersection of Dubuque and Market streets has already seen a lot of activity.

When a national conference needed a space to hold a student-entrepreneur showcase, Thinc hosted it. Thinc has also hosted new events, like Student IdeaStorm, and will be the place for future hackathons, Allendorf said.

In addition, John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center instructors and graduate students work from the space on a regular basis to be available for students every day.

"When they need support or mentoring, they want it now," Allendorf said. "That is how student businesses are run. They don't understand yet that if they send an email off in the business world and don't hear back for two days, that is reasonable."


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