The University of Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) is seeking applications for its new Iowa Innovation Challenge, which will award more than $225,000 in funding to innovative and entrepreneurial projects on campus over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year.
The first phase of the challenge, an elevator pitch competition, will be held Nov. 18-20, with $75,000 in prizes. The second phase, a business model competition, will be held next spring and award an additional $150,000.
The competition is open to faculty, staff, students and incubator startups at the university. Pitch workshops will also be held prior to both competitions to help individuals and teams prepare.
Applications for the elevator pitch competition will be accepted until Nov. 6, with a limited number of spots available. Full application details and rules can be found here.
The new competition is offered in partnership between UI JPEC, the UI's Office of the Vice President for Research, the UI Research Foundation and UI Ventures. 
MMeet your new coworker: the cobot

Thanks to sensors and other design features such as lightweight materials and rounded edges, cobots are able to interact directly with humans. CREDIT WIKIMEDIA 
A new class of industrial robot is on the way - and yes, they will be taking human jobs.

That's not all bad, say experts in collaborative robots, or "cobots," the next generation of automated helpers designed to work side-by-side with humans and capitalize on the best attributes of both.

"A lot of companies are telling me, 'We never would have imagined that we would be investing in robotics, but because of issues of workforce, we're being forced to,'" said Chad Engelkes, automation product manager for Cedar Rapids-based Van Meter Inc., speaking during a breakout session at the CBJ's 2019 Manufacturing Conference.

A widening skills gap, worker scarcity and rising employment costs are just some of the pressures facing American manufacturers, Mr. Engelkes said. The need to be fast and flexible in switching up production lines and timetables while keeping costs down is also driving the robotic revolution. That's especially true when vying with global - and sometimes state-subsidized - competitors not working under the same labor and environmental constraints.

"Are robots replacing jobs? Absolutely they are, and they have to," Mr. Engelkes said, pointing to a recent Deloitte study suggesting 2.4 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled from 2018-2028. "But in the same breath, we have to realize robots are saving jobs, too. There's a scarce resource out there [labor], and anytime there's a scarce resource, we have to look for ways to make that more productive, get more out of it ... and keep those jobs here."

Enter the cobot. While industrial robots have been used in manufacturing for decades, this new technology is designed to work safely with and alongside people, instead of being isolated in a safety cage, like most robots deployed today.

Mr. Engelkes said cobots are best for unpleasant, repetitive or precision tasks, as well as those that can reduce human injury and improve plant safety. They are typically lightweight and easily programmable, allowing them to be moved from task to task as needed.

Read the full story at corridorbusiness.com.
Para3Grinnell College, Techstars announce new DM accelerator

Techstars, a national network of accelerators and a venture capital firm, is partnering with Grinnell College to launch Techstars Iowa, to be located in Des Moines, Kate Hayden of the Business Record reports.

Des Moines entrepreneur and former interim director for the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator Kerty Levy has joined as managing director of Techstars Iowa, which has yet to settle on a physical location in the metro. The accelerator will accept up to 10 Iowa-based startups for the first class, scheduled to run for 13 weeks from September to December 2020.  
Grinnell and Techstars representatives announced the planned launch this morning at fintech startup Dwolla. Applications for startups will open on Feb. 17 and will be accepted through May 10.

"We believe that talent is everywhere and opportunity is not," said Ivan Lopez, general manager of accelerators for Techstars' western region. "There's an incredibly thriving and viable technology and entrepreneurial community in Iowa, in Des Moines and in other cities, but the opportunity for venture capital for these entrepreneurs and people who come from idea to product and market is more complicated."

Techstars has 46 accelerators announced or operating internationally with plans for continued growth, although Mr. Lopez would not say how many more accelerators are being planned. By the end of 2019, Techstars will have more than 2,000 companies in its portfolio, he added.
Read the full story at businessrecord.com. 

Corridor Business Journal CEO and Publisher John Lohman recently joined 1 Million Cups in Cedar Rapids for a "founders fireside" chat with Eric Engelmann, executive director of NewBoCo, about his entrepreneurial journey over the past 15 years.

Mr. Lohman discussed how he built and grew the CBJ in Eastern Iowa, along with some of his biggest challenges and lessons learned.

You can watch the video presentation here, and see a list of upcoming speakers at the 1 Million Cups Facebook page.
Para5IDx taps former LabCorp executive to lead sales
Seth Rainford
Coralville-based IDx Technologies has appointed former LabCorp executive Seth Rainford as its new president of global markets.

In the new role, Mr. Rainford will be charged with expanding market opportunities and driving operational excellence at IDx, which last April received clearance from the FDA for the first autonomous AI diagnostic system in any field of medicine. Its flagship system, IDx-DR, is designed to detect diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness, in primary care without requiring an eye care specialist to interpret the results.

Mr. Rainford most recently served as regional vice president and general manager of LabCorp in the Chicago area, leading a strategic transformation of its Midwest business unit. Before that, he served as vice president at Northwestern Medicine.

"Seth has a proven track record of increasing market share and profitability for health systems and publicly traded companies," said Dr. Michael Abramoff, the founder and CEO of IDx, in a release. "His breadth of experience will be a valuable asset as we work to accelerate our growing portfolio of customers. It is exciting to have him on board."

IDx is currently developing additional AI-based diagnostic systems for the detection of macular degeneration, glaucoma, Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke risk.
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Short-Term Event Planner
Oct. 22 
Caring Hands and More Ribbon Cutting, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, 4-6 p.m., Caring Hands and More, 1552 Mall Drive, Iowa City. Free. For information, visit bit.ly/2oyroLs.
Oct. 23
Quickbooks Workshop, by Hills Bank, 7:45-10 a.m., Hills Bank, 2481 Highway 92 E, Washington. Free. To register, visit bit.ly/2kVsBeu.
1 Million Cups, by 1MC Cedar Rapids, 8:15-9:15 a.m., Geonetric, 415 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join for community connections, free coffee and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more. Free. For more information, visit facebook.com/1MCICR.
1 Million Cups, by 1MC Iowa City, 9-10 a.m., MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Join for community connections, free coffee and presentations by entrepreneurs, established companies, experts and more . Free. For more information, visit facebook.com/1MillionCupsIC/. 
Marion Chamber Annual Meeting, by Marion Chamber of Commerce, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Cedar Rapids Marriott, 1200 Collins Road NE. Keynote speaker Eric Olson, from Iowa State University, will lead a conversation about what it means to offer exceptional customer service. Cost: $40 per person, $400 per table of 10. To register, visit bit.ly/2mnTrwe.
NuCara Pharmacy Ribbon Cutting, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., NuCara Pharmacy, 1900 James St., Suite 10, Coralville. Free. For information, visit bit.ly/2otVT5f.
Oct. 24
SCORE Monthly Breakfast Roundtable, by SCORE of East Central Iowa, 7:30-9 a.m., Scott's Family Restaurant, 1906 Blairs Ferry Road NE, Cedar Rapids. Free. To register, visit conta.cc/2n0TcYD.
Leadership Summit: Customer Service Boot Camp, by Marion Chamber of Commerce, 8-11:30 a.m., Hills Bank, 3204 Seventh Ave., Marion. Discover how to create an environment focused on service and a customer for life. Cost: $20 per person, $150 for table of eight. To register, visit bit.ly/2mWv2hu.
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28 
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
A Vinton woman is charged with the embezzlement of nearly $300,000 after an investigation into missing money from a car dealership. Vinton police say Ervin Motor Company contacted them last month after noticing suspicious activity in their business checking account. An investigation showed that an employee, Kelly Ann Banghart, 56, of Vinton, had been stealing money for several years from the business. Police say Ms. Banghart stole $295,608.31 from Ervin Motor's bank account between May 2015 and August 2019. Investigators say Ms. Banghart used the funds to make unauthorized payments towards her personal credit cards. She admitted to investigators that she had stolen the funds and was charged with first-degree theft.

Two men have been arrested for the murder of a Des Moines man shot whose body was found in a homeless camp near downtown Des Moines. At the time, police had said 23-year-old Marshal Johnson's body had been "cleverly concealed" behind an abandoned manufacturing plant. Police have also shed more light on how the two suspects, Yancy Freland, 46, and Bryan Norris, 26, killed and then tried to dispose of his body. Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek said in press release that in the days following July 26, Mr. Norris shot Mr. Johnson in the head and Mr. Freland shot him in the torso. Mr. Norris then cut the victim's neck with a sharp object before the two suspects wrapped his body in plastic and partially buried his remains. Investigators say over the next several days, Mr. Norris and Mr. Freland tried several times to burn his body before completely burying his remains, which were found on Oct. 8. The two suspects have been behind bars for more than a month.
T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Weather First Forecast
A big area of low pressure will pull away from the area today and continue to bring some light showers and strong winds. Winds of 25-45 mph will continue through the day, making it feel colder outside. The clouds will hang for much of the day and hold temperatures down in the 40s to around 50 degrees today. Winds will calm tonight and temperatures will fall into the mid-30s. A weak clipper system will move into the area on Wednesday. There won't be much moisture around, but a few stray, light showers will be possible in the afternoon/evening. Temperatures will be in the 50s Wednesday afternoon, but colder air will come in behind the clipper.