SPOTLIGHT: Iowa’s CIVCO Exports Radiation Therapy Products Around the World

Exports and Iowa’s economy go hand in hand. With the state’s international trade relationships supporting nearly 430,000 in-state jobs, Iowa boasts strong rankings for its global presence. Iowa has the fourth best trade balance in the country and 10th in terms of export growth – the state has become a true competitor in U.S. outputs.

CIVCO Medical Solutions is one Iowa company leading the way. From humble beginnings in Kalona, CIVCO has since grown to become a supplier of choice in the global medical industry, offering high-tech medical devices and accessories. The company has expanded worldwide and now exports more than 3,000 products to some 80 countries. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, CIVCO has also been the recipient of many honors. Most recently, the company was awarded the Iowa Global Excellence in Exporting Award from Northwest Iowa Development Partners for its strong international and export presence.

Accepting on behalf of CIVCO are Seth Hurst and Kim Einerwold.
Accepting on behalf of CIVCO are Seth Hurst and Kim Einerwold.

However, before CIVCO was able to grow on a global scale, the company first relied on the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Export Trade Assistance Program to build momentum internationally. Through this program, eligible Iowa companies may be reimbursed for up to 75 percent of defined international marketing expenditures in a qualifying trade show or trade mission held outside the United States. Similarly, the Domestic Trade Assistance Program may reimburse eligible Iowa companies for up to 75 percent of defined international marketing expenditures in a qualifying trade show held in the United States.

Attending international trade shows gives Iowa companies the ability to form and grow relationships overseas that are needed to strengthen and cultivate international business. While these trips and investments can be costly, the state’s programs make it easier and more cost effective for companies to pursue; allowing them to open doors and further business worldwide.

Along with a strong business environment, Iowa can also add strong international relations to its impressive resume. The state is committed to helping its businesses achieve international success and as proven by CIVCO, Iowa companies are now competing front and center on the global stage.

Iowa Company, University Building the State’s Wind Energy Leadership

Iowa’s national leadership in wind energy generation is about to get even stronger. MidAmerican Energy Company announced it plans to spend nearly $280 million to erect 67 new wind turbines; 64 in Adams County in southwest Iowa and three in O’Brien County in northwest Iowa by the end of 2015.

The new turbines are in addition to a $1.9 billion investment in wind energy generation the company announced in May. That project would add more than 650 wind turbines to MidAmerican’s system – enough to power more than one million homes. If approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, nearly 50 percent of all of MidAmerican Energy’s power generation will come from wind.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, 27.4 percent of the electricity used in Iowa last year was generated by wind, the highest percentage in the U.S. Additionally, Iowa’s electricity rates average 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour below the national average.

The abundance of wind energy produced in Iowa was a key factor in enticing Google, Facebook and Microsoft to choose Iowa locations for new data centers.

Meanwhile, researchers at Iowa State University (ISU) are studying ways to enable wind turbines to generate between 15 percent and 40 percent more electricity. One project, supported with grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Iowa Energy Center, is examining the feasibility of substituting hexagonal concrete blocks for the steel towers that hold turbine blades. Sri Sritharan, leader of the ISU College of Engineering’s Wind Energy Initiative, says concrete towers could allow turbines to be built to a height of 120 meters, or 40 meters taller than steel towers. Raising the height would enable turbine blades to capture more wind at a more consistent speed.

Another research project at ISU is looking into the feasibility of installing dual rotor turbines. The second set of blades would capture additional wind produced by the wake of air flowing past the first set of blades.

Iowa Technology Startups Rise and Shine in National Competition

Iowa startup Bawte presented $100,000 at Rise of the Rest competition. (Photo credit: Rise of the Rest Flickr)
Iowa startup Bawte presented $100,000 at Rise of the Rest competition. (Photo credit: Rise of the Rest Flickr)

Iowa is rapidly gaining a national reputation as a hotbed of ingenious technology startups. The evidence was there for the world to see when Steve Case, former CEO of AOL, brought his Rise of the Rest competition to the Science Center of Iowa on Oct. 8. Des Moines was one of five stops selected for the competition. Other competitions took place in Kansas City, Madison, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

Rise of the Rest is similar to ABC’s Shark Tank series. Iowa startups were pitching for a $100,000 investment from Revolution, LLC, a technology investment firm founded by Case. I had the pleasure of serving as one of the judges with Case, Dwolla founder Ben Milne, Iowa Technology Association’s former president Leanne Jacobsen and Coppola Enterprises President Michael Coppola.

Nine Iowa technology startups competed for the investment, including:

  • Bawte, Des Moines, an app platform that identifies the things consumers buy;
  • Pear Deck, Iowa City, which helps users plan and build interactive lessons;
  • Men’s Style Lab, Des Moines, a concierge clothing service;
  • Jobsite Unite, Des Moines, which streamlines jobsite communication for construction workers;
  • Re-APP, Iowa City, a mobile application that socializes and incentivizes recycling;
  • Punctil, Cedar Rapids, which helps health care professionals eliminates patient wait times and no-shows;
  • Offspring, Des Moines, a way to capture and share and print your children’s special moments;
  • Igor Inc., Johnston, a power-over-Ethernet LED lighting platform and built-in intelligence; and.
  • Venuefox, Des Moines, which focuses on concierge event planning services for businesses.

Bawte earned the $100,000 investment as well as a trip to Austin, Texas, to pitch the company at the 2015 SXSW Startup Village for a chance to win additional investment. The company, founded by John Jackovin in 2011, came to the competition with a unique offering: providing consumers with service for products they already have purchased. For example, a homeowner who purchased a major appliance can use the app to obtain user manuals, check their warranty status, or be informed of product recalls and more.

Iowa Gov. Branstad and Steve Case at Rise of the Rest startup event. (Rise of the Rest Flickr)
Iowa Gov. Branstad and Steve Case at Rise of the Rest startup event. (Rise of the Rest Flickr)


The competition was only one of several startup events this fall. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) also was a sponsor of the I/OWA Conference, where founders, teams, supporters, designers, developers and innovators came together to celebrate and invigorate Iowa’s startup community. Passionate individuals shared ideas, solutions and inspiration. Conference-goers also got an engaging look at technology and innovation on a national scale and gained keen awareness for the resources available locally to strengthen Iowa’s startup communities.

In addition to attending and sponsoring startup events like the ones mentioned above, we also administer entrepreneurial assistance programs. Awards are made during IEDA board meetings. This month, six startups received innovation funding to encourage growth and further development. See our complete board report of these awards here.

There is definitely a lot going on in Iowa to encourage and empower entrepreneurs and small business. I’m proud of the hard work of these Iowa innovators and all we do together to improve and enhance the state’s startup ecosystem.

Until next time,

Debi Durham, Director, Iowa Economic Development Authority