Scale your growth with Iowa's best accelerators & incubators

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Choosing The Right Accelerator

Start-ups are hard. Choose an accelerator that guides you in the right direction.

Patrick Collison, Founder of Stripe

"I doubt that Stripe would have worked without YC. It's that simple."

Patrick Collison, Founder, Stripe

Chris Lynch, Founder of Atlas Venture

"Accelerators claim they are in it for the long haul — I call bullshit"

Chris Lynch, Founder, Atlas Venture

Raj Aggarwal, Founder of Localytics

"The network we built with Techstars was incredibly valuable during and after the program."

Raj Aggarwal, Founder, Localytics

What truly matters

Do they know why they succeeded in the past?

Accelerator’s brand power

Domain expertise > Funding amount

Accelerator’s connections in the industry

Discover your perfect match

No accelerator or incubator is perfect for every start-up. Your business’s context and constraints matter. Identify your perfect match by answering this short questionnaire.

Iowa's Top Accelerators By Neighborhoods

Comparing Accelerators

NameAerial ScoreStandard DealAddress#Investments#ExitsDetails
Techstars Iowa Accelerator9.9Iowa, USA18475Learn more
Global Insurance Accelerator4.6321 E Walnut St UNIT 130, Des Moines, IA 50309, USA251Learn more
Iowa State University - Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative4.530, Curtiss Hall, 513 Farm House Ln, Ames, IA 50011, USALearn more
BrokerTech Ventures4.5$50K500 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309, USA2Learn more
UIVentures4.5136 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, IA 52240, USA1Learn more
Entrepreneurial Development Center4.5230 2nd St SE #212, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401, USALearn more
ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship4.41805 Collaboration Pl, Ames, IA 50010, USALearn more
Iowa State University - Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship4.41805 Collaboration Pl, Ames, IA 50010, USALearn more
Iowa State University Research Park Corporation4.41805 Collaboration Pl, Ames, IA 50010, USALearn more
New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative4.4415 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401, USALearn more
University of Iowa - John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center3.221 E Market St S160, Iowa City, IA 52242, USALearn more
NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center2.1NIACC, 500 College Dr Ste 120, Mason City, IA 50401, USALearn more

This page covers the top accelerators and incubators in Iowa.

However if geography isn’t a hard constraint, and you are only looking for the best incubators and accelerators across the US, check here.

Brief Overview Of Different Accelerators

1) Techstars Iowa Accelerator

Techstars Iowa Accelerator - building Iowa's entrepreneurial future

Techstars Iowa Accelerator is a global platform for investment and innovation. It is an annual program focused on helping remarkable teams scale through a connected, energizing, and community-driven experience. The class for 2022 consists of ten companies who participate in a 3-month immersive program. The accelerator specializes in technology that brings innovation to vital industries in the Midwest and beyond, covering domains such as automation, material science, augmented reality, and virtual reality. It caters to vertical markets including energy, sustainability, education, agriculture, finance, and healthcare. Founded by Brad Feld, Chisa Egbelu, Daniel Mason, David Brown, David Cohen, and Jared Polis, the accelerator offers access to financial, human, and intellectual capital, along with mentorship and ecosystem exploration. Techstars Iowa Accelerator acts as a catalyst for innovative tech start-ups, fostering growth and connections in Des Moines, Iowa, with a focus on industries like Agriculture Tech, AR/VR, Clean Energy, Healthcare Tech, Environmental Tech, and Fintech.

Techstars Iowa Accelerator's Website
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2) Global Insurance Accelerator

Global Insurance Accelerator - building Iowa's entrepreneurial future

Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA) is a mentor-driven accelerator pioneering innovation in the insurance industry by supporting startups targeting global insurance markets. The institution focuses on early-stage insurtech startups developing disruptive products, providing initial investments, valuable insights, and key connections. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, at the heart of the U.S. insurance industry, the organization offers a unique ecosystem of insurance professionals and global organizations as mentors, exclusive to the insurance sector. It invests in startups, aiding in product-market fit validation, and ensuring readiness for growth. With top insurance companies as investors, the accelerator offers customer insights, pilot programs, and ongoing opportunities. The 15-week accelerator program comprises three phases: Orientation and Validation, Product Development and Customer Traction, and Scaling and Demo Day Preparation. GIA specializes in insurtech solutions across various domains while providing networking opportunities, exposure to leading carriers, and fostering innovation within the insurance industry. Notable founders include Brian Hemesath. Successful alumni such as Jack Kudale from Cowbell have attributed their success to GIA's support and guidance, emphasizing the role of the accelerator in propelling insurtech visionaries towards success.

Global Insurance Accelerator's Website
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3) Iowa State University - Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative

Iowa State University - Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative - accelerating exceptional start-ups in Iowa

The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative at Iowa State University, also known as the Start Something College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), was established in 2005 as a leading program nurturing agricultural entrepreneurs globally. Within this initiative, the Ag Startup Engine operates as an accelerator program situated at the Iowa State University Research Park. It focuses on empowering innovative agricultural startups through mentorship, rapid prototyping, product development, and customer acquisition strategies. Start Something CALS, part of CALS, fosters entrepreneurial skills among students, supporting them in exploring business concepts, launching startups, and interacting with successful entrepreneurs to enhance creativity and expertise. While specialization domains like ag-tech are implied, specifics such as the number of startups or funded ventures are undisclosed. Despite this, the program emphasizes fostering innovation and technology transfer. Participants benefit from networking opportunities, access to resources, mentorship, and industry expert guidance. Overall, the Ag Startup Engine propels agricultural entrepreneurship by offering a conducive environment for startup growth in fields like Food and Beverage and Agriculture Tech.

Iowa State University - Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative's Website
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4) BrokerTech Ventures

BrokerTech Ventures - connecting start-up founders with success

BrokerTech Ventures is a leading accelerator program focused on insurance brokerage, investment, and communication services. It operates as the first and largest broker-led insurtech ecosystem globally, functioning as a central hub for innovation, ideation, investment, and communication within the insurance industry. The program invests $50,000 in each startup through a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) in their accelerator cohorts, with a strong emphasis on distribution leveraging its extensive partnerships. Notable startups from the cohorts include those from Basking Ridge, NJ, Chicago, IL, and San Francisco, CA, working on various insurance solutions. Specializing in broker-centric solutions spanning domains like claims, underwriting, distribution, and customer experience, the organization bridges the gap between insurtech startups and brokers. Startups benefit from mentorship, pilot programs, investment opportunities, industry exposure, and access to an innovation hub, all under the guidance of experienced insurance brokers. Founded by Daniel Keough, BrokerTech Ventures is a key player in insurtech, collaborating with startups and brokers to deliver validated solutions to the insurance industry across various sectors such as Fintech, General Tech, and Real Estate Tech.

BrokerTech Ventures's Website
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5) UIVentures

UIVentures - promoting the start-ups of tomorrow

UIVentures is an accelerator and incubator firm located in Iowa City, Iowa, affiliated with the University of Iowa, a public research university offering diverse academic programs. The firm specializes in investing in healthcare software, medical devices, and other healthcare technology sectors. With a total of 11 investments, they have notably supported startups like CartilaGen in drug discovery, SynderBio in biotechnology, and Farapulse in surgical devices. The accelerator has had 4 exits, including Immortagen in 2016 and Farapulse in August 2021. UIVentures focuses on healthcare-related domains, supporting early-stage companies through its Accelerate Program, aiming to help them build strong business teams and prepare for funding opportunities. While details about the program duration are unspecified, UIVentures actively seeks new investments from promising startups in healthcare and edtech, distinguishing itself through its commitment to fostering growth in the industry.

UIVentures's Website
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6) Entrepreneurial Development Center

Entrepreneurial Development Center - Iowa's true entrepreneurial hub

The Entrepreneurial Development Center (EDC) is a private/public sponsored business accelerator founded in 2003 with a mission to drive economic growth by nurturing entrepreneurial enterprises in Iowa's Technology Corridor. The EDC focuses on supporting startups in various industries, including Healthcare Tech, General Tech, and Agriculture Tech. Led by founder Curtis R. Nelson, the accelerator powers the growth of interstate commerce companies at different stages of development, from startup to established businesses. The EDC has been instrumental in fostering innovation and scalability for numerous ventures, specializing in technology-related fields given its focus on the Technology Corridor. The accelerator's role in expanding and developing entrepreneurial ventures underscores its significance in driving economic development across Iowa.

Entrepreneurial Development Center's Website
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7) ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship - Iowa's true entrepreneurial hub

Located at the Iowa State University Research Park, the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship has been supporting entrepreneurs since 1996. It caters to Iowa State students, faculty, alumni, as well as innovators and business owners in Iowa. The center offers business education, training, assistance, and networking contacts to help aspiring entrepreneurs transition from ideas to established enterprises. Key programs include CYstarters, an 11-week summer accelerator program, CyBIZ Lab for student consulting, College-by-College Pitch Off for pitching ideas, ISU Startup Factory for startup support, and Startup Sales Fundamentals Series for essential sales skills. The center's specialization domains range across industries like Edtech, Fintech, Robotics, and more, with a predominant focus on tech companies. The accelerator also hosts pitch competitions, venture competitions, and provides resources for entrepreneurs. Notable initiatives like CYstarters offer young entrepreneurs funding, mentorship, and skill development in a structured 11-week program.

ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship's Website
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8) Iowa State University - Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

Iowa State University - Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship - promoting the start-ups of tomorrow

Situated in Iowa State University's Research Park, the Iowa State University - Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship is dedicated to supporting and nurturing entrepreneurs in Iowa. The organization provides programs and services that connect students, community entrepreneurs, business professionals, and alumni. One of the prominent initiatives is CYstarters, an 11-week intensive summer accelerator empowering young entrepreneurs with funding, mentorship, and skill development. The center also houses the ISU Startup Factory, an incubator program guiding startups towards growth through resources, training, and networking. The center hosts events like the College-by-College Pitch Off, where students can pitch ideas and win prizes, and offers the Startup Sales Fundamentals Series to equip founders with essential sales skills. Participants benefit from networking with mentors and professionals, business training courses, and innovation opportunities through Iowa State's Start Something Network. Known for its sector-agnostic approach, the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship serves as a vital link between entrepreneurship education, experiential learning, and venture creation resources.

Iowa State University - Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship's Website
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9) Iowa State University Research Park Corporation

Iowa State University Research Park Corporation - a modern, innovative hub for start-ups in Iowa

The Iowa State University Research Park (ISURP) is a vibrant technology community and incubator located in Ames, Iowa. Spanning over 500+ acres, it boasts more than 800,000 square feet of developed building space, catering to upwards of 100 tenant companies. Notably, five companies that originated at ISURP have become publicly traded, with several others achieving successful liquidity events. The park hosts the world headquarters of two publicly traded companies and major research and development facilities for 10 others, making a statewide impact on economic growth and innovation. ISURP offers access to various resources available at Iowa State University, facilitating talent pipeline management, specialized equipment access, and research infrastructure support across domains like technology, agriculture, and science. The accelerator programs at ISURP, including the Ag Startup Engine and the ISU Startup Factory, have collectively launched over 45 startups, generating 70 jobs and securing $20 million in external funding. Additionally, CyStarters, a startup accelerator housed at ISURP, supports student programs in collaboration with businesses to drive industry growth in fields like Agriculture Tech.

Iowa State University Research Park Corporation's Website
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10) New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative

New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative - building Iowa's entrepreneurial future

New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo) is a nonprofit organization based in Iowa, USA. They are dedicated to fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration to make Iowa a global hub for impactful startup businesses. Established with a vision to create a diverse and inclusive community supporting individuals with groundbreaking ideas, NewBoCo offers programs spanning from idea validation to scaling. Their approach values learning from failure and is underscored by a practical, agile methodology. The organization is led by experienced entrepreneurs committed to giving back. While headquartered in Cedar Rapids, the impact of NewBoCo resonates statewide. They believe in the collective benefit of success across Iowa. Stemming from community resilience post the 2008 flood, NewBoCo drew inspiration from thriving startup ecosystems nationwide to cultivate a vibrant community. Specializing in technology-based startups, particularly in sectors like healthcare tech, edtech, and logistics, NewBoCo runs the Iowa EdTech Accelerator in collaboration with regional resources and education leaders. Participants access a top-tier network of mentors, speakers, coworking spaces, among other perks. The accelerator's founder, Amanda West, leads the charge in empowering Iowa's entrepreneurial landscape.

New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative's Website
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11) University of Iowa - John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center

University of Iowa - John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center - supporting Iowa's best founders

Located at the University of Iowa, the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center is a prominent hub for entrepreneurship education and outreach in the Cedar Valley. The center offers various programs to support individuals and teams, including the Startup Incubator. This program provides access to experts, resources, collaborative workspaces, mentoring, funding opportunities, workshops, marketing support, and networking. Additionally, the center runs the Early Founders Program, focusing on nurturing early-stage startups through mentorship and networking. JPEC specializes in various domains to support innovators across Iowa, having supported 2,816 startup companies and awarded $3.15 million in seed money. Over 50,418 students have participated in JPEC courses, highlighting the dedication to fostering entrepreneurship among University of Iowa students. With a sector-agnostic approach, the center empowers aspiring entrepreneurs, drives innovation, and leaves a notable impact on the startup ecosystem in Iowa.

University of Iowa - John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center's Website
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12) NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center

NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center - promoting the start-ups of tomorrow

Dedicated to fostering innovation and supporting entrepreneurs, the NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center champions a customer-centric approach to minimize risk and enhance customer value through early feedback and rapid experimentation. The center cultivates a culture of creativity and facilitates the efficient development, validation, and improvement of business models. It works with entrepreneurs at different stages, offering one-on-one counseling, training, and services like business feasibility analysis, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Additionally, the center provides access to professional resources, guidance on commercial lending, and small business loan programs. Alongside hosting the Youth Entrepreneurial Academy to encourage young entrepreneurs, the center collaborates with entrepreneurs across various industries like fintech, assisting in securing capital, supporting innovation, fostering networking, and de-risking the startup journey.

NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center's Website
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Top Reasons Start-ups Participate In Accelerators

Critical Industry connections

A good connection at an FMCG/AI giant can help you 10x more than connecting with 100 retailers.

Rapid learning curve

There’s a reason accelerators are called accelerators. It’s a fast ride.

Early state financing

Big ideas arise mostly when you don’t have to worry about day to day expenses.

Peer learning

There’s not enough time in the world to learn from one’s own mistakes. Peer learning helps.

Why an accelerator might not be right for you

It's usually helpful to consider potential pitfalls. Some common misconceptions

Are the alumni actually helpful?

An accelerator's alumni network can play a big role in your longer term growth. But ask around and figure if any of them gave back even a couple of hours in the past year.

Correlation isn't causation

What worked for Airbnb might not work for you. If the accelerator playbook was 100% full-proof, they would have been running a start-up and not an accelerator. After all, everyone's chasing a unicorn.

Figuring out the failure rates

Everyone can point to a few success stories. Though in general 95% of all start-ups fail. An important question is- what %ge of an accelerator's start-up survive after 3 years.

FAQs About Start-up Accelerators

Author Bio

Michael Li

Michael Li

For the last 10+ years Michael has helped start-ups of all scales and sizes succeed. A 2X entrepreneur, he is now working on Aerial to help founders avoid costly mistakes. He regularly writes for publications like the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Harvard Business Review and others.

Last updated date 4/5/2024

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Accelerators and Incubators in iowa

Looking for the best accelerators in Iowa? Here are some top reasons to choose an accelerator in the state. Accelerators in Iowa provide start-ups with essential resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities to help them grow and succeed. The start-up culture in Iowa is thriving, with a supportive ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, and tech enthusiasts. When choosing the right accelerator in Iowa, consider factors such as industry focus, program duration, mentorship quality, and funding opportunities. It's essential to find an accelerator that aligns with your start-up's goals and values to maximize growth potential. Some notable start-ups from Iowa that have succeeded well include Dwolla, Involta, and Workiva, demonstrating the state's capacity for innovation and success in the tech industry.

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