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Regional Leaders Set to Participate in MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program

May 20, 2022

The Greater Des Moines (DSM) and Ames region has been selected to be part of the prestigious MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program (REAP) to help drive entrepreneurship in the region. The program is a two-year training program for stakeholders in entrepreneurial communities to strengthen their existing ecosystem.

MIT REAP is a global initiative that engages with communities around the world to supercharge innovation-driven entrepreneurship (IDE) ecosystems and transform economies via two ground-breaking programs — Core and Focus. Both programs employ an evidence-based “Team” approach, translating MIT frameworks, research and insights into a practical, actionable and strategic framework, convening and educating key stakeholders, and empowering leaders to drive meaningful economic and social progress. The Focus program employs targeted IDE ecosystem acceleration within a single region.

Regions from across the globe are carefully vetted for acceptance to MIT REAP’s Focus program with a particular “urgency for change” or problem area in their region’s overall system that they want to see addressed. The MIT REAP faculty then work with the Focus program team to overcome the regional challenge that is hindering the growth of the IDE ecosystem by identifying the region’s comparative advantages and acceleration mechanisms required to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. 

The DSM and Central Iowa region, including Ames, was selected through the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s role in the Heartland Civic Collaborative (HCC), working with Kansas City, Omaha and St. Louis, and join regions in Hungary, the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Western Australia in taking part in the global program. The HCC was included by the Kauffman Foundation, which is underwriting this effort as part of its priority to increase access to entrepreneurship and spur entrepreneur-focused economic development in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and around the country.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is bringing together representatives from five core areas of partnership between Greater Des Moines and Ames: government, university, corporate/existing businesses, risk capital and entrepreneurs. The Des Moines and Ames-based team members include the following:

  • Steven Brockshus, FarmlandFinder
  • Tej Dhawan, Principal Financial Group® and Plains Angels
  • Alison Doyle, ISU Research Park
  • Nadilia Gomez, Iowa State University
  • Brian Hemesath, VolunteerLocal
  • Kevin Kimle, Ag Startup Engine and Iowa State University
  • Anne McMahon, BioConnect Iowa
  • Nancy Mwirotsi, Pi515
  • Hank Norem, Ramco Innovations and Maple Ventures
  • Mikayla Sullivan, ISA Ventures
  • Geoff Wood, Gravitate Coworking and Clay & Milk
  • Diana Wright, Greater Des Moines Partnership

“This is a golden opportunity for leaders of our entrepreneurial ecosystem across DSM and Ames to work together to amplify the successes happening across our region,” said Diana Wright, Startup Community Builder at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. 

“It’s also a key time as leaders to look at our long-term commitment to startups and entrepreneurship. Think 2040. We already know that you do not have to move to the coast to start a company. Entrepreneurship has been democratized and people can now be wherever they want and still belong to a thriving startup community, both physical and virtual. Through the next two years, we are excited to join the Midwest and global cohorts to start making real progress towards the next 20-year vision for the startup community in Central Iowa and beyond.

About the Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 24 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 365 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.