By Joe Gardyasz, Senior Staff Writer Business Record
Just 16 weeks into its 52-week program, the inaugural class at the ISU StartUp Factory has collectively raised $2 million in private capital, twice the $1 million goal set by the program for its startups to raise by the end of the yearlong program.
ISU President Steven Leath made the announcement during a grand opening reception held Thursday at the new Vermeer Applied Technology Hub, which is located at the ISU Research Park in Ames.
Reaching the private fundraising goal early was a “pleasant surprise,” said Bill Adamowski, director of the ISU StartUp Factory. “(Investors) have been stepping up and looking; it’s been great,” he said.
The new facility at 2710 South Loop Drive, which Vermeer is leasing from the research park, provides a high-visibility anchor space for the Pella-based manufacturer to attract engineering talent from ISU. It’s also a venue for the manufacturer to potentially collaborate with the StartUp Factory’s 12 tenant companies, who will occupy the building’s second floor.
“This space is a big part of our investment in talent,” Mary Andringa, chair of Vermeer, told guests who gathered at the center. All of the StartUp Factory companies were on hand to mingle with guests and pitch their products from a soapbox set up in the warehouse portion of the center.
The Technology Hub will accommodate two StartUp Factory cohorts; after the initial 26 weeks the companies will move from collaborative cubicle spaces into small office spaces while a new class moves into the cubicles. Vermeer will have offices on the ground floor, and occupants will look out onto the warehouse/lab space that’s big enough for Vermeer to park some of its biggest pieces of construction and farm equipment.
“We like the innovation and creativity with the StartUp Factory,” Vermeer CEO Jason Andringa said. “That’s the culture we want to cultivate here.”