EntreFEST returns to Iowa City May 20-22, with three regent universities as presenting partners

EntreFEST returns to Iowa City May 20-22, with three regent universities as presenting partners

The University of Northern Iowa, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University announced this morning that they will be presenting partners for EntreFEST 2015, along with the five John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers in the state. The conference will return to Iowa City May 20-22. Although the three regent universities are frequently cast as competitors, scrabbling for students, dollars or touchdowns, working together for ‘Iowa’s Entrepreneur Conference’ “just made sense,” officials said. The universities will each provide financial sponsorship and serve on the event’s executive committee. Last year’s EntreFEST was a record-breaking year, bringing more than 500 people to Iowa City for three days. “We recognized that the regent universities in Iowa are in a unique situation, with their involvement, and their contacts, and their clout,” said Paul Kinghorn, director of the Regional Business Center & Entrepreneurial Outreach at the University of Northern Iowa. “It allows us to have a certain gravitas, that would be harder for any one institution to have on their own.” All three schools have been involved with EntreFEST in multiple ways since its inception at the University of Northern Iowa in 2008 – for example, Iowa State is the home of the statewide Small Business Development Center, and the University of Iowa has been involved as a sponsor and planning committee member. However, signing on as presenting partners represents a deeper involvement with the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, organizers said. “To me, this signifies a leveling up of commitment and support,” said Amanda West, director of EntreFEST and CEO of Seed Here Studio, which will produce EntreFEST for the third consecutive year. With the additional sponsors and partners, EntreFEST…