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How Tech Companies Are Transforming Iowa City’s Business Climate

Opportunities are plentiful in the medical tech and education tech sectors.

By Kevin Litwin on January 22, 2020

Iowa City, IA Medical Technology
Iowa City / iStock.com/Gorodenkoff

The concept of “meaningful work†can be a moving target thanks to, well, it meaning different things to different people. Few would disagree that work directly impacting heads and hearts falls into that realm, and the Iowa City area is seeing growth in technology focused companies that aim to improve both: education technology and medical technology.

Among the education technology companies already experiencing success in Iowa City are ACT, Higher Learning Technologies, Leepfrog Technologies, Pear Deck and Pearson Education.

The Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD), which helps companies and individual entrepreneurs find talent, space and money to grow, is working with these companies and the state to develop an even stronger education technology cluster here.

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“This is a college town with highly educated people, and it’s a priority for us to attract more talent to an education market that is really changing right now,†says ICAD President Mark Nolte. “There are excellent jobs in software, sales, operations, customer support, accounting, coding, designing and for people who like to see education projects all the way through,†he says.

“For education companies looking to locate in a community, Iowa City is still kind of a secret to many people. However, when businesses visit, they are blown away by how strong our economy is and how many opportunities there are.”

Iowa City, IA Medical Technology
Iowa City / iStock.com/Gorodenkoff

Healthy Outlook

Another strong industry is medical technology, which continues to grow with startups, such as IDx, Integrated DNA Technologies and divvyDOSE. Many medical-technology companies are hiring graduates from the University of Iowa (UI), especially since UI has a school of pharmacy that graduates many pharmacy techs every year.

One of the most recent medical-technology success stories in Iowa City is SmartScripts, a company that takes all the guesswork from customers who take daily medications. SmartScripts pharmacy techs prepare medications, supplements and vitamins in prepackaged pouches that are sealed together on a single roll and perforated for ease of use. The date when a customer should take each dosage is typewritten on every individual pouch.

All medications are delivered to a customer’s home free of charge, and refills are automatically filled as needed once a customer is in SmartScripts’ computer system.

“I would 100% recommend SmartScripts to any pharmacy student graduating from UI,†says Zach Hogan, a pharmacy technician and project coordinator at SmartScripts. “I actually live in North Liberty but obviously spend a lot of time in Iowa City. My wife, Emily, is a pharmacist at SmartScripts as well.”

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A Great Place to Live

Hogan says there is much opportunity for growth at SmartScripts, and the company is community oriented.

“Careers here include pharmacy tech, coding, customer service, computer programming and several other positions related to pharmacy and technological opportunities,†he says. “The company is also working on continuing to improve its overall automation of prescription delivery.”

Away from work, Hogan points out that he likes how the area is a tight-knit community with friendly people.

“Emily and I have two little kids, and we are outdoor people who enjoy the variety of parks available here,†he says. “And when we get some alone time, Emily and I are also craft beer enthusiasts who like going to local spots like Backpocket Brewing and ReUnion Brewery. There is a lot to do in a growing community like Iowa City.”

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