Creative hub for entrepreneurs opens in downtown Iowa City - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Creative hub for entrepreneurs opens in downtown Iowa City

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

The grand opening of MERGE, a creative working space shared by entrepreneurs, was held Thursday.

Over 200 people attended the open house and took a tour of the space. 

MERGE is a collaborate effort between the Iowa City Area Development, the City of Iowa City, and the University of Iowa. They say this is an affordable option for startup businesses looking for a working space.

"What we want it to be is the living room of innovation in the community," Mark Nolte, President of ICAD, said.

The MERGE space offers an assortment of space and price options. Businesses can choose from daily options, to multiple days a week, and full-time space options which vary in prices.

Nolte said it's not only about finding startup businesses a place to work, it's also about having a chance to work with other like-minded people.

"To be a startup is a lonely feeling right? So, if we can surround you with mentors and funding and provide an affordable space and let you bump into people that are going through that journey with you, we think it will enhance peoples opportunities for success," he said.

Which is why some entrepreneurs have opted out of having a home office and moved in.

"Having a place like MERGE to come to where you have other people around and other people working on similar initiatives with that entrepreneur spirit it's really an important thing for momentum and energy and focus," John Corrigan said.

Corrigan is the founder and CEO of Journimap, a company that focuses on customer experience and social impact, and opted for a full-time office space inside MERGE.

On top of space and collaboration, MERGE also provides other resources such as mentoring, free wifi, and funding help. One of the top features is the on-site 3D printers provided by protostudios.

"We can help them rapidly prototype devices and try and put new devices into the market in a very affordable and fast way that you couldn't do in years past. It used to be if you didn't own the factory you couldn't launch a product but now we bring the factory to them," Nolte said.

By Thursday, 13 of the 15 office spaces had been filled by startups and another 6 have opted for the bench spaces. 

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