Middle Bit: ISU & UNI win grants for economic growth programs

Two of Iowa’s universities, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa, have received grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for programs intended to promote innovation and strengthen regional economies. The two schools were among 20 colleges to receive funding through the University Center Economic Development Program Competition.

ISU received $138,000 to support the development of the Iowa Workforce Innovation Network, which will work with research universities, regional councils of government, economic developers, and education and business leaders to create solutions to Iowa’s systemic workforce challenges.

UNI received $131,000 to support business retention and expansion through a focus on intrapreneurship services. The University Center’s activities will help support local economic developers in cultivating business opportunities and coordinate university and community college programs to support businesses in their intrapreneurship activities.

What else is happening?


G2 Crowd,  a platform that lets businesses search for, compare reviews and pricing for, and then buy software and other IT services — it likes to refer to itself as the “Amazon of business software” — has raised $55 million in growth funding to continue expanding its business. –TechCrunch


Skillful, a Colorado-based skills training program geared toward helping more people without a college degree secure in-demand jobs, announced today that it is expanding to Indiana. Skillful was the recipient of a three-year, $25.8 million grant from Microsoft Philanthropies last year, and also received financial support from Walmart to launch an Indiana program. –VentureBeat


In 2007, Gordon Whitten founded Sojern with the idea of placing ads on print-at-home boarding passes. Fast forward 11 years later to what Sojern is today, an Omaha original that has surpassed $100 million in annual revenue – expanding its company dramatically to 13 locations world wide. –Silicon Prairie News