Companies choose eastern Iowa to incubate technology

Published: Mar. 6, 2018 at 4:12 PM CST
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For the first time, Corridor Business Journal invited four eastern Iowa companies to sit on a “Future of Technology” panel. From apps to artificial intelligence, ACT, IDx, Shaking Earth Digital, and Crystal Group shared their innovations.

Shaking Earth Digital is a development company for software and emerging technologies, like Virtual Reality. SED’s founder Jens Zalzala is originally from Los Angeles, but chose West Liberty to start up.

“It’s a really interesting tight knit community, I like that it’s small. In LA you have all these little sector, but you don’t really get a sense of what’s going on,” Zalzala said. “What I found enlightening was being able to talk to all these other business owners and businesses that do different things from us, but have a lot of the same issues. I kind of felt like I got a much broader sense of what’s going on in the world and what other people are doing, rather than just being focused on my tiny little sector.”

Computer based systems company Crystal Group is based out of Hiawatha. Vice President of Engineering Jim Shaw said eastern Iowa is a fantastic place to incubate a company.

“You’ve got the people that want to work, they want to make a difference, they really want to contribute,” Shaw said. “They’re really talented, they’re smart, they’re talented, and they’re driven.”

He also said the community support is there. Crystal Group has experienced that over the last five years. It has seen a 20% growth each year. The company mostly works with the military, but is expanding into industrial. Intel selected Crystal Group to partner on crafting autonomous vehicles.

“I think we have become a technology corridor, this was not an accident,” Shaw said. “We’re feeding this technology monster that continues to grow, it’s becoming extremely exciting, there’s a lot of good things that are coming out of it. There’s probably no end to the kinds of businesses that we’re going to see come out of this. It’s just really exciting and a great place to be right now.”