VentureNet Iowa: connecting companies with state funding

For ten years now, VentureNet Iowa has been helping companies find the right resources and funding.

Since 2008, VentureNet has contracted with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to provide business commercialization services to innovative companies applying for state funds. Specifically, the programs are designed for Iowa-based companies commercializing innovative technologies in one of four industries: biosciences, advanced manufacturing, value-added agriculture, and information technology.

The IEDA’s Innovation funding programs are split into three different funds that companies can apply for depending on the stage they are currently at.

  • The Proof of Commercial Relevance program is designed to define and articulate the opportunity for businesses that demonstrate a proof-of-concept for innovative technology. Proof of Commercial Relevance awards are up to $25,000.
  • The Demonstration Fund provides assistance to companies with market-ready innovative technologies or products that have a clear potential for commercial viability.  Demonstration Fund awards are up to $125,000.
  • The Innovation Acceleration Fund promotes the growth of businesses that have demonstrated financial and operational stability, earned substantive revenue and have a complete management team. The fund is split into two programs, Propel and Innovation and Expansion. Propel awards up to $300,000 and Innovation Expansion awards up to $500,000.

“If a company is interested in these programs, they contact us and we set up a time to talk with them and learn about what they’re doing,” said  Adrienne Greenwald, Director of Communications & Public Relations at VentureNet Iowa. “This helps us determine if they’re eligible for these programs and which program is the best match for them.”

Once companies have applied, they have a focus group meeting with VentureNet. This consists of the company giving a twenty-minute pitch followed by a 45-minute Q&A. The companies are evaluated during this which serves as part of the application which is sent to the Technology Commercialization Committee (TCC), a sub-committee of the IEDA Board.

“Of the companies that go before the TCC, right around 60 percent of the companies get funded,” Greenwald said.

VentureNet goes through six application cycles per year and typically accommodates twelve companies per cycle.

Changes to application process

Funding applications are no longer available directly from IEDA website to ensure that applicants are filling out the current application and are applying to the correct program.

“We really just want to make sure on the front end that people are aware of the eligibility requirements and applying the best program for them,” Greenwald said.

Companies interested in applying can contact VentureNet at innovation@iowaeda.com for an application and to verify eligibility.