Corridor Business Journal – October 17, 2017
NewBoCo Executive Director Eric Engelmann yesterday outlined his organization’s ambitious plan for supercharging the Corridor’s innovation economy over the next five years, with educational and entrepreneurial initiatives leading the way.
Speaking to Cedar Rapids’ Downtown Rotary club, Mr. Engelmann offered an overview of the various entities housed under the NewBoCo umbrella, including the DeltaV code school and the Iowa Startup Accelerator, before explaining how his nonprofit hopes to help the region position itself for the tech economy and coming disruptions like driverless trucks.
“Our role as an organization is to be a catalyst,” Mr. Engelmann said. “We aren’t going to fix all of these problems by any means, we just want to make a heck of a dent in them.”
According to Mr. Engelmann, NewBoCo hopes to help do the following by 2022:
  1. Create 100 new, “high-quality” startups a year. That could include “importing them if necessary,” he noted, citing current ISA team Cargofy, which arrived from the Ukraine earlier this summer.
  2. Create a new model of engagement with college-age talent.
  3. Create a formal model for the commercialization of IP.
  4. Ensure that every school has a certified computer science instructor. Mr. Engelmann said his organization will have trained 192 comp sci instructors by the end of next year, but noted that the state will need “a continual backflow.”
  5. Ensure that kids in Eastern Iowa can attend flexible code and engineering bootcamps and leadership programs.
  6. Create niche, targeted adult bootcamp programs to support growth-oriented businesses.
  7. Create growth programs for millennial talent, including leadership, innovation, disruptive modeling skills.
  8. Create formal innovation districts in the region. Mr. Engelmann cited the NewBo district, and its growing density of tech companies and startups, including Involta, Converge Consulting, Geonetric and Collective data. “It’s nerd central,” he quipped. “That density really matters.”
  9. Lead the Midwest in the development of companies people “pine to work at.”
  10. Help craft the right state and federal policy in relation to startups and angel investing.
  11. Be “in the game” when it comes to national and international business.
Mr. Engelmann also offered some updates on NewBoCo programs. He said that 30 companies have completed the Iowa Startup Accelerator since its launch in August 2014, 17 are still in operation and nine are “growing rapidly.” Teams through the ISA have raised nearly $7 million over that time.
The nonprofit’s Corridor Angel Investment group has attracted 40 investors since launching earlier this year, and has already done one deal, according to Mr. Engelmann. The group, launched in February, received 38 requests for funding in its October session, with three consideration slots available.