Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Under President Wintersteen's leadership, Iowa State University is creating a vibrant ecosystem where innovation and entrepreneurship are built into the curriculum. Students will develop an entrepreneurial mindset that empowers them to turn their ideas into new businesses or startups, help existing companies innovate and grow, and make a difference in their communities. The deans of all seven colleges – Agriculture and Life Sciences, Ivy College of Business, Design, Engineering, Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine – are leading conversations and working with Iowa State's entrepreneurial ambassador [see right] to develop unique approaches for curriculum and student experiences. 

Four types of innovation and entrepreneurship: 

  1. Traditional product- and service-based startup business entrepreneurship
  2. Intrapreneurship that helps students innovate within companies
  3. Civic innovation that allows students to make an immediate difference in their communities
  4. Social entrepreneurship, including thought leadership and advocacy

Iowa State's leading role in innovation and entrepreneurship

  • Iowa State University's undergraduate entrepreneurship program is ranked #26 in the nation by the Princeton Review 
  • Iowa State is the first public university in Iowa to offer an undergraduate major in entrepreneurship and only the eighth in the United States to offer a Ph.D. specialization in entrepreneurship.
  • The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, founded in 2005, is now one of the foremost undergraduate programs for training and developing high growth agricultural entrepreneurs in the world. Each year this initiative engages 1200 undergraduates students in classes, activities, and internships; more than 200 students participate in the Entrepreneurship in Agriculture course; and 30-40 student interns are placed with entrepreneurial agricultural businesses.
  • The Student Innovation Center, set to open in spring 2020, will be a hands-on hub for Iowa State students of all programs and majors. This will provide a unique, state-of-the-art space to exercise their innovative and entrepreneurial muscles – to design, fabricate, test and demonstrate ideas -- everything from culinary to lunar, and digital gaming to vehicles. The facility also will include exhibit space, print and supplies shops, a student-run cafe, office space for student organizations and a plethora of wireless access points.
  • Iowa State was named a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps site to enable researchers to explore the commercial potential of their emerging technologies.


Hear from a few of the 150 Cyclone Entrepreneurs who participated in "The Great Iowa State Pitch Off: STANDING InnOVATION!" to pitch their business ideas during the 2019 Iowa State Fair. Click here for the list of winners. 


Karen Kerns

Karen Kerns is serving as an entrepreneurial ambassador, working across the university and with the colleges to foster Iowa State's culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.  


Entrepreneurial Programs