ISU’s new I+E Academy will carry collectively entrepreneurship and liberal arts


A new academy for students in the university’s Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) opens this fall at Iowa State University. The new Innovation + Entrepreneurship (I + E) Academy is a two-year program for LAS majors and minors who want to experience and develop an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset.

Rebecca Runyon will serve as the academy’s director. Runyon says her first focus will be on spreading the word about the program and recruiting.

“This first year will be a lot of relationship building and finding people willing to invest in the students who attend the academy as mentors,” said Runyon. ‚ÄúSome of the other colleges in the university already have entrepreneurship programs. You hear the name ‘AG EI’ [Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative] and people know what the College of Ag is doing for entrepreneurship. But with LAS it’s a brand new program, so even faculty members within LAS haven’t heard what this academy is and what it’s about. “

The first year of the program will largely consist of entrepreneurial and innovative lessons for students that prepare them with generally applicable skills, Runyon told Clay & Milk. In the second year, students are matched with a mentor and work with the other students in the program to really get their ideas off the ground.

The program is aimed at first and second year LAS majors willing to explore innovation and entrepreneurship. Students must be enrolled in a LAS major and have a minimum of 2.25 GPA to apply for the program. Runyon expects 20 to 30 students in the opening cohort.

“The I + E Academy is a perfect stepping stone for CYstarters,” said Runyon. “My personal goal is that each of the students who come out of the academy and are still interested in entrepreneurship can and want to take part in CYStarters in the following summer.”

Prior to becoming director of the academy, Runyon was an ISU student where she received a BS in 18 agricultural studies and an MS in agricultural education. She has also founded two companies – Lunchsox and Bessie’s Parlor – and participated in the ISU’s CYstarters Accelerator cohort for 2018.

The I + E academy was originally supposed to start in March 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed its introduction by a year. The new introduction date is planned for the beginning of March and the first cohort of students will enroll in autumn 2021.

“Students don’t necessarily have to have a business idea or know what it is to be an innovator in an existing organization, but if that sounds interesting to them, I encourage them to apply,” said Runyon.

Previous reporting

The ISU Student Innovation Center brings students together across campus – July 22, 2019

Entrepreneurship is a top priority for ISU President Wendy Wintersteen-Nov. 21, 2018