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We’re extremely proud of the bold work that NewBoCo has done over the past three years to support entrepreneurship, education, and innovation. We’ve laid a lot of the groundwork necessary to help our community develop a sustainable, world-class innovation community. In some cases, our programs have already begun to make a meaningful and measurable difference. Other programs still need more time and support to really show results. In 2017, we doubled the size of our staff and launched new initiatives, such as DeltaV Code School, our corporate innovation programs, and the restructuring of the Iowa Startup Accelerator, to increase our impact and prepare us for the “second chapter” of our organization.
2018 is going to be another big year for NewBoCo. We’re planning to expand some of our existing programs to new cities, such as bringing EntreFEST to Cedar Rapids, and launch new programs to help more of our local companies become reliably and repeatedly innovative. And I’m (already!) taking an eight-month sabbatical to spend time with my family and travel the world together.
With massive disruption ahead for Iowa’s economy, we know we have a lot of work to do to ensure that Iowa is prepared to thrive in tomorrow’s economy. And we know that it’ll take longer than one year to show meaningful impact. That’s why we’re laying out our five year goals now to provide transparency and insight for the work we do going forward.
We plan to keep pushing the envelope in entrepreneurship, education, and innovation to make sure that Iowa thrives in our economy both today and tomorrow. Here’s what we’re working toward.
At NewBoCo, we think it’s vital for Iowa’s future that we continue to develop exceptional, groundbreaking companies in the state and make sure that they have the resources they need to grow their business here. That’s why we launched the state’s first time-boxed accelerator, the ever-so-creatively named “Iowa Startup Accelerator”; created an angels investors network, Corridor Angels Investors; and produce major events like EntreFEST, the largest celebration of the Midwest’s entrepreneurial and innovation community; and run the Vault Coworking and Collaboration space.
2022 Entrepreneurship Goals
- Infuse entrepreneurship into higher education. Iowa’s colleges and universities can drive innovation — whether it’s through faculty-led research or student business incubators. Some of our most successful Iowa Startup Accelerator teams actually started their businesses while they were students! We want to make entrepreneurship more accessible to students from all backgrounds because we know that world-changing ideas can come from anyone. In 2017, we partnered with Coe College’s Center for Creativity and Careers to offer fellowship experiences to Coe students. We’re excited to expand our partnership in 2018 to help infuse entrepreneurship into the Coe experience for all of its 1400 students. We hope to use our partnership with Coe as a model to expand to more colleges in Iowa.
- Capitalize on Iowa’s core industries. In order to grow more successful companies here in Iowa, we want to double down on the things Iowa already excels at. For example, in 2018, we’re partnered with the MedQuarter Regional Medical District to design and execute a mentor network to attract better healthcare and medical startups to Eastern Iowa. We plan to make similar partnerships with groups in all of Iowa’s core industries. By doing so, we believe we can have an impact on 100+ startups a year.
- Make EntreFEST a nationally known conference. EntreFEST is a truly unique gathering for entrepreneurs, innovators, and the people who support them. In 2017, we partnered with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance to take over EntreFEST and bring it back after a year long hiatus. The conference was a major success — and we’re going to make that success even bigger. Over the next five years, we plan to make EntreFEST a nationally known conference that both speakers and attendees clamor to be at.
We believe anyone can learn how to be innovative if they have an open mind and the opportunity to learn new skills. And with our world becoming increasingly technical, we believe that kids and adults alike need to be able to learn how to be masters of technology instead of passive consumers. Through our K-12 Imagination Iowa programs and DeltaV, our adult code school, we offer hands-on educational opportunities to help kids and adults alike be ready to build the future. We’re looking to build on Iowa’s legacy of leading in education and expand our programs to serve more students from all backgrounds.
2022 Education Goals
- Ensure that every school in Iowa has a certified computer science teacher. At this point, an estimated 1,178 elementary schools and 562 middle/high schools in Iowa don’t offer computer science classes according to research done through a partnership between Gallup and Google. Learning about computer science at a young age not only encourages students to pursue careers in tech, in a world where every technology influences every industry, it’s also as foundational as learning about grammar, biology, or history. Through a partnership with Code.org, NewBoCo trained enough teachers on how to teach computer science to reach 900 students in 2017 alone. With the support of sponsors from public and private partnerships, we’ll expand the work that we’re doing now so that by 2022, we can make sure that every student in Iowa has access to computer science in their elementary, middle, and high schools.
- Create more opportunities where students can dive deeper into tech education outside of school. Imagination Iowa, NewBoCo’s K-12 education program, began with Coder Dojo, a volunteer-led movement offering free coding classes for kids on the weekend. Imagination Iowa has since grown to include the statewide facilitation for Future City, one of the nation’s leading engineering education programs, summer coding classes, and niche technical classes — such as ones where students learn how to build apps in virtual reality. We want to help other communities provide the same opportunities that we provide here in Eastern Iowa and we’re actively looking for partners to help us along the way.
- Grow DeltaV Code School to have 100+ graduates a year. In its first year, 75% of DeltaV Code School students who completed the program found work in programming in less than a month and were competitive with applicants with traditional 4-year degrees in computer science. We want to expand DeltaV so that more adult career switchers can find the same success that our inaugural class found. And since DeltaV became a registered tech apprenticeship training program for software development in Iowa, we’re confident we can make this expansion an affordable reality.
Many innovative companies started in Iowa. We want to help more of our local companies find the same success because we believe anyone can be innovative — not only entrepreneurs. In 2017, we dramatically ramped up our corporate innovation programs to help established companies explore new technologies and become more resilient. We launched our innovation workshop series with attendees coming from all corners of the state. Our goal is to help Iowa companies develop a culture that fuels innovation by embracing experimentation and rapid iteration. Over the next five years, we’ve designed programs that work closely with teams within organizations to increase the impact we have on a company’s innovation capacity.
2022 Innovation Goals
- Launch our Intrapreneur Academy and have 20+ people go through it each year. NewBoCo is known for our support of entrepreneurship, but we’re excited to start supporting a different type of idea creator: the intrapreneur. Intrapreneurs embody an innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit while working inside an established company to drive meaningful change. In 2018 we’ll launch our Intrapreneur Academy, a year-long program for cross-functional teams, and by 2022 we hope to have at least 20+ people enrolled in it per year. In this year-long program, each quarter focuses on a different innovation competency (agile mindset; process and methods; culture, people, and leadership; and strategy) and will put each team through hands-on workshops and coaching to help them improve their capability to innovate repeatedly and rapidly.
- Offer enterprise transformation services to help businesses re-engineer around new technologies and emerging business models.
We are by no means limited to these goals. NewBoCo was founded by a group of people who believed that Iowa could do more and be more, and while we’re working toward these goals, we’re sure we’ll find more along the way. We began with a bold dream of what our community could be, and as we move into the second chapter of our organization, we have an even bolder vision to match. There’s so much that needs to be done to make Iowa thrive. What NewBoCo plans to do is only a small part of this. But, we’re ready to make a difference.