Entrepreneurship &Innovation


Innovation and entrepreneurship are two foundational cornerstones of the Iowa State mission to Create, share and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place.

From cross-discipline collaboration to real-world entrepreneurial training, the Office of the Vice President for Research and campus partners support the research community with systems, services, and tools that help visionary discoveries become economic realities.

Iowa State’s emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship has earned national attention. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) recognized the university with its 2020 Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Innovation Award, and its undergraduate entrepreneurship program is currently ranked 11th in the nation by the Princeton Review.


Research that tackles society’s greatest challenges increasingly requires teams of investigators from a range of disciplines, centers, and institutions. Iowa State’s Grants Hub offers team science consultation, resources, training, and facilitation to help interdisciplinary research teams collaborate and operate more efficiently and effectively.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program to provide experiential education to help researchers gain valuable insight into entrepreneurship and how to start new business ventures. Iowa State’s I-Corps site program embeds a stronger and more pervasive culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across the entire campus community and focuses on translating discoveries that reflect the university’s myriad strengths in engineering, biorenewables, materials science, agriculture, food and nutrition, and veterinary medicine. Since becoming an I-Corps site in the fall of 2017, the I-Corps program at Iowa State has generated $3.4 million in commercialization grants and investment funding; provided training involving 223 students, postdocs, faculty, and staff; formed 82 teams representing seven colleges and more than 25 departments; witnessed the launch of 13 new companies; and advanced nine teams to the national program. Click here to learn more about the I-Corps program at Iowa State.

The Student Innovation Center is the nexus on campus that inspires students, faculty and staff to innovate through experimentation, interdisciplinary collaboration and the free exchange of ideas in an inclusive environment. The center is a resource serving the entire university community with unique facilities and workspaces to foster innovation across all aspects of Iowa State’s land-grant mission. It provides a welcoming and vibrant environment where all university stakeholders can find resources to foster new ideas, creativity, experimentation, evaluation and entrepreneurship; especially at the intersection of traditional disciplines.

The ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship provides a wide variety of business-related guidance and assistance to both existing and startup businesses. Programs and competitions are open to students, faculty and staff, and the community.

  • CYstarters offers undergraduate to Ph.D. students, as well as recent graduates, the opportunity to participate in an immersive summer accelerator program to help kickstart the launch of a new business venture.
  • Startup Factory is a 17-week incubator focused on helping researchers and inventors develop a roadmap to realize the societal and economic impact of their high-tech innovations, , ideally stemming from university commercialization efforts. Our goal is to help innovators and founders move from “tech-speak” to “business-speak”. The ISU Startup Factory runs twice per year, on the academic calendar. Additional consideration offered to teams who complete the university’s I-Corps program.

The Iowa State Small Business Development Center offers free business counseling and market research services for those choosing to start a small business, acquire a business, manage a business, or exit a business.

The Roy J. Carver Co-Laboratory Business Incubator within the Plant Sciences Institute allows ISU faculty, staff, and students to commercialize research and/or create a startup company in a university setting.

The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative provides students, faculty, and staff with practical agribusiness development and entrepreneurial experiences essential for their success in future careers and endeavors.

The CyBiz Lab provides an opportunity for cross-functional teams of undergraduate and graduate students to work on business and organizational projects.