Do you have a new technology-based business idea? If you do, I encourage you to check out the Dream Big, Grow Here contest that is sponsored regionally by the Business Innovation Zone.  The winner of the regional business pitch contest will be awarded $5,000 and then move on for the opportunity to win another $10,000 in a state-wide contest here in Iowa.

The background information (from the BIZ Web site):  In June of 2010, the University of Northern Iowa Regional Business Center (RBC) developed a partnership with the Iowa Bankers Association and the Community Vitality Center to attract and link emerging Iowa entrepreneurs with the capital resources available in the state to serve them.

A statewide contest entitled Dream Big Grow Here was launched, featuring $1,000 monthly grants awarded online to emerging and existing Iowa small business owners who uploaded their ‘dreams’, then encouraged friends, family and other business owners to vote for them.

Wildly popular, Dream Big Grow Here attracted 63,489 visitors during the five month beta test. Given the success of Dream Big Grow Here and increased interest in online resources among innovators, the RBC approached a small group of statewide sponsors to provide matching funds for regional contests-with cash awards of $5,000 and fund a statewide pitch-off among winners for a grand prize of $10,000.  

There will be 8 regional contests, including ours here in Central Iowa.  Each region will select (through crowd voting) a winner, who will receive $5,000.  Those 8 regional winners will then compete against one another (again, crowd voting) for the statewide $10,000 prize.

It’s my understanding the business idea must be pre-sale. So if you have sold your product or service to anyone, you won’t be eligible. It is for true start-up technology-based businesses. For more information be sure to contact Mike Colwell of the BIZ at You can also check out a recent podcast on Silicon Prairie News discsussing the program and other interesting issues.