InnoVenture Iowa Challenge Announced Today

Pitch competition will award a first-place prize of $100,000

Contact: Kaylee Williams,

DES MOINES, IA – In partnership with BioConnect Iowa, the InnoVenture Iowa Fund, the state’s newest venture capital fund, announced today the “InnoVenture Iowa Challenge”, a pitch competition that will bring together three startup companies to compete for a $100,000 cash prize.

Any early-stage bioscience, advanced manufacturing or information technology startup based in Iowa or with a connection or significant operations in Iowa, are invited to apply.

“We are calling on Iowa’s innovators to participate in the first annual InnoVenture Challenge,” said Kaylee Williams, Investment Director for the InnoVenture Iowa Fund. “Our outstanding organizing team is ready to shine a light on promising technology startups all across the state.”

More information on the InnoVenture Iowa Challenge, including how to submit an application, can be found here.

Iowa’s newest venture capital fund, InnoVenture Iowa, is one part of $96 million in federal funding to Iowa from the Treasury State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). The SSBCI investment for Iowa businesses and entrepreneurs was announced last week by Governor Kim Reynolds. Announcement here.

“InnoVenture Iowa’s co-investment model ensures our public investments are matched by private equity,” said Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Finance Authority. “This fund will focus on early-stage investments in Iowa-based innovations, and elevating them to the attention of outside investors who can take them to the next level.”

“By leveraging Iowa SSBCI funds with private sector funds, we have the potential to spur innovation in promising technologies developed at our public universities, as well as investing in and supporting entrepreneurial activity throughout the state,” added Steve Brody, President and CEO of BioConnect Iowa.

The InnoVenture Iowa Fund will invest up to $30 million to support early-stage startup companies, targeting investments in companies in biosciences, advanced manufacturing, and information technology. Qualifying and making investments by InnoVenture Iowa Fund will be led by Williams and considered and decided by an Investment Committee of private-sector business and investment leaders from across Iowa.

The SSBCI program was established in 2010 to increase access to capital for traditionally underserved small businesses and entrepreneurs. It was reauthorized and expanded in 2019 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Iowa’s SSBCI funding will make investments in private companies supporting Iowa startups, manufacturers and small businesses across Iowa, including those owned by veterans and individuals from diverse backgrounds.