ISU team wins top award in statewide Pappajohn new venture business plan competition

AMES, Iowa -- An Iowa State University team was chosen as one of the top prize winners in the recent statewide Pappajohn New Venture Business Plan Competition.

The team of Joel Rieken of Ankeny and Andy Heidloff of West Des Moines -- both ISU graduate students in materials science and engineering (MSE) -- and Iver Anderson, an adjunct professor in MSE, won one of three top prize awards of $5,000 for their new venture, Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies.

In the competition, students pitch innovative business plans to a team of professional investors. The winners were chosen on the basis of the content and viability of their plans by a panel of judges from Equity Dynamics, John Pappajohn's venture capital firm. They were announced at a luncheon following the 14-team competition on March 27 at the Des Moines Marriott.

Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies is a new company that produces high quality ultra-fine (less than 45 millimeters) spherical titanium powder. The powder is produced using an advanced high pressure gas atomization technique that has been researched and developed at Ames Laboratory in conjunction with Iowa State University.

Titanium is used in many metallic applications and can outperform stainless steel and aluminum, but has previously seen limited use due to inherent fabrication difficulties. The titanium process requires the use of high quality spherical metal powder that can only be produced using molten metal atomization. Iowa Powder Atomization Technologies' process can produce such powders at costs dramatically lower than any international competitor.

Iowa State sent two other regional finalists to the competition. They were Amy Thalacker, a junior in veterinary medicine from Hudson for her venture Black Hawk Equine Reproductive Services; and Tyler Clarey, a senior apparel studies major from Le Mars for his venture "Greenola" -- a granola quick service restaurant that offers customers a chance to customize basic organic whole grain granola with multiple flavors and items such as dried berries, almonds, M&M's, or marshmallows.

The competition is open to any Iowa university or college student/team with an interest in starting a business. John Pappajohn -- president of Equity Dynamics, Inc., Des Moines, and founder of the five John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers in Iowa -- created the competition eight years ago.

More information is available through ISU's Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship Web site at