Our Town Coralville: Collaboration and innovation pushes community forward

The Oakdale region of Our Town Coralville is home to the State Hygienic Lab, the UI National Advanced Driving Simulator, and has dozens of start-ups.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:23 PM CDT
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - In today’s edition of ‘Our Town’, where we highlight a different community each week in the summer, we look at an expanding portion of Coralville.

The Oakdale region of Our Town Coralville is home to the State Hygienic Lab, the UI National Advanced Driving Simulator, and has dozens of start-ups in different phases of development collaborating and supporting a community of innovation.

About a ten-minute drive from the University of Iowa are acres of ideas being transformed into real-world solutions: the University of Iowa Research Park, in the Oakdale region of Coralville.

“We started here in the research park a long time ago we were just some dumb guys with no idea what we were doing in terms of business,” said Higher Learning Technologies co-founder Adam Keune.

Keune and two friends wanted an easier way to study for medical boards - and found a smartphone option wasn’t available. So they founded Higher Learning Technologies.

The software company got a boost from the University of Iowa Research Park - which serves as an incubator for science and technology-focused entrepreneurs.

“This building has been full with a waiting list in the four and a half years I’ve been here in the position of chief innovation officer, since I came here,” said University of Iowa Chief Innovation Officer, Jon Darsee.

Entrepreneurs can rent a room within the BioVentures Center, lease a lot, or even buy an existing building. And since the University owns the land, there are no property taxes.

Inside the BioVentures Center, there’s a dry and a wet lab, offices, meeting spaces, and scientific tools like an incubator and a centrifuge. The whole facility helps entice University of Iowa faculty who want to capitalize on intellectual property, as well as draw economic development.

“The more we enhance our reputation of supporting start-ups the more we are able to attract faculty that have those instincts to be entrepreneurs or they just want to solve unmet needs, said Darsee.

The Higher Learning Technologies founders have grown from a company of three to more than 40. And they’ve helped 30 million learners... with a 99-percent pass rate.

And despite invitations to leave Iowa, the founders are committed to the place that gave them their start.

“We’ve raised a substantial amount of funding and every time we raise money those coasts, the venture capitalists, say hey we’d love to have you but you need to move to San Francisco or you need to move to New York and it just wasn’t for us,” said Keune.

Just one story about the impact of the Research Park and the support it provides, found in Our Town Coralville.