community engagement


As a leading entrepreneurial resource for the state of Iowa, our community training and support programs have been needed now more than ever before. This past year, the new Iowa Innovation Challenge awards combined with COVID-19 grants, helped provide over $180,000 in seed funding that went directly to support community startups and businesses. Iowa JPEC continued to support companies both locally and internationally with virtual business consulting services, training programs, and connections to student interns to work on special projects.

View Full 2020 Annual Report

2020 Impact





Startup Training

Our community outreach initiatives help startups and businesses of different levels of experience and are available across all 99 Iowa counties.

  • Venture School - Innovative statewide training program focuses on real-world experimentation, customer discovery and lean methodologies, enabling startups to vet their ideas and develop a business plan.
  • UI Innovators Workshop - This National Science Foundation I-Corps program was designed to help University of Iowa faculty, staff, and students raise funding to take their innovations to the next level.

Business Support Programs

  • Wellmark Venture Capital - Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has committed up to $5 million to the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers in Iowa to help fund the startup of Iowa businesses.
  • Business Consulting - Enlists student teams that are led by experienced faculty and mentors to provide innovative solutions for a variety of business projects at no cost to the client.
  • Student Internships - Provides a low-cost solution to businesses across the state who need assistance on special projects while providing UI students with real-world learning opportunities.
  • International Support - Research, educational, and consulting resources to help organizations pursue global important and exporting opportunities.


featured community clients

community engagement

Cedar Falls, Iowa | Founder, Russel Karim is a premium marketplace platform for B2B clothing sourcing that connects small and mid-size fashion brands, boutiques, and retailers directly to verified South Asian clothing manufacturers. The team participated in Iowa JPEC's Venture School program (co-hosted by UNI) and Launch Day pitch competition and was awarded $7,500 in funding to help advance their company. Dhakai was also a semifinalist in the 2020 John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Venture Competition and has recently been accepted into the TechStars Iowa accelerator program in which they will participate starting this fall.


Iowa City, IA | President and CEO, Dr. Joun Lee

Pani Clean Inc. was founded to provide green, cost-effective water treatment solutions for Iowa, the U.S., and the world. Founded by Iowa faculty and staff, the company is developing a renewable electricity-driven low-cost, fouling resistant, water treatment unit that is designed to be modular and scalable to satisfy various water treatment needs. After participating in Iowa JPEC’s UI Innovators Workshop NSF I-Corps training program this past fall, the team was able to use their training to evaluate their market potential, refine their business model, and shape their strategy to gain traction for growing the business. The team credits the guidance, seed funding, and training they received through Iowa JPEC as helping them to succeed. Pani Clean received a USDA SBIR Phase I award in 2019. The team has a pending application for the USDA SBIR Phase II award, and is currently in the process of submitting the invited proposal to the NSF SBIR Phase I program and will be participating in the advanced NSF I-CORPS National Teams Program.


Iowa City, IA | Founder, Dr. Jean Robillard

"We, at INSEER, are tremendously grateful to Wellmark and the Iowa Small Business Development Center for their support during the early stage of our company. Without the Wellmark convertible loan and the SBDC support, it would have been very difficult for us to grow and to become competitive in the AI market environment."