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Middle Bit: Public universities have $11.8B impact on state economy

Iowa’s public universities provided $11.8 billion in additional income to the state economy in the 2017-18 budget year, according to a new study conducted by Idaho labor market analytics firm Emsi.

The economic impact report, commissioned by the Board of Regents and unveiled last week, found that Iowa public university activity supports nearly 150,000 jobs, or one in every 14 jobs in the state.

The University of Iowa in the 2017-18 budget year added $6.5 billion in income to the Iowa economy. That’s equal to 3.4 percent of the state’s total gross product and amounts to 81,073 jobs, according to the report.

Iowa State University in the 2017-18 year added $3.4 billion in income to Iowa’s economy, amounting to 1.8 percent of the state’s total gross product and supporting 42,640 jobs.

UNI added $1.6 billion to the Iowa economy, equal to nearly 1 percent of the state’s gross product or 21,979 jobs.

Click here to read the entire economic report.

New St. Luke lab allows staff to create healthcare inventions inside the hospital

St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids opened its new innovation lab on Thursday.

The “Generate Health Technology Fabrication Lab” in Cedar Rapids is MakerHealth’s third space like this in the country, and is the first in the Midwest.

If hospital staff have an idea that they think can help their care, they can brainstorm with a product engineer, then build their product with 3D printers, laser cutters and other technology.

Prior to the permanent lab opening, the hospital ran a similar operation through pop-up labs in empty rooms at the hospital. Through that, staff members created nearly 60 different projects, 11 of which are currently used at St. Luke’s and its clinics.

In addition to the lab at St. Luke’s Hospital, there will also be two smaller, satellite labs at Witwer Children’s Therapy in Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha.

Kirkwood STEAM Institute set for Nov. 25-26

Kirkwood Community College’s Workplace Learning Connection (WLC), a work-based learning program for middle school and high school students, has partnered with more than a dozen regional businesses and organizations to host the Johnson County STEAM Institute on Nov. 25-26.

The two-day event will provide seventh-grade students from Johnson, Benton, Cedar and Iowa counties a chance to learn about various opportunities in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) careers. More than 1,750 students are expected to take part in more than 5,000 unique STEAM experiences.

The experiences are designed to spark interest in middle school students and inspire them to pursue job shadows and internships while in high school. In recent years, WLC has experienced a spike in student job shadow and internship placement at local businesses. The organization attributes this growth to strong community partnerships and hands-on events like the STEAM Institute.

The event will be held 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa.

Middle Bit: Public universities have $11.8B impact on state economy | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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