The CIRAS Network

  • Federal Partnerships
  • Iowa Partners
  • Iowa State University Resources
  • Industry Consortia

A vast network of university and industry experts brings a combined 2,000 staff-years of professional experience to CIRAS, making us the leading integrator of business solutions in Iowa.


Federal Partnerships

DoC/NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership

The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) is a nationwide network of not-for-profit centers whose sole purpose is to provide small- and medium-sized manufacturers with the help they need to succeed.  Each center works directly with area manufacturers to provide expertise and services tailored to businesses’ most critical needs. CIRAS manages the MEP program for the state of Iowa. Services may be provided by CIRAS staff, center partners, or staff or partners from another MEP center.

DOD/OSBP APEX Accelerator Program

The APEX Accelerator program is part of a nationwide network that helps guide businesses through the world of government contracting. Through one-on-one counseling, educational events, and networking, APEX experts help companies from all industries and skill levels identify; compete for; and win federal, state, and local government contracts. Services are provided at no cost or at a nominal cost to companies. CIRAS manages the APEX program for the state of Iowa.

DoC/EDA University Center Program

The US Economic Development Administration provides grants for University Center Programs that seek to improve the economies and economic development capacity of their service areas. CIRAS administers the program for the state of Iowa. The current program, titled iWIN (Iowa Workforce Innovation Network), develops workforce management plans for rural communities clustered near metropolitan areas.


Iowa Partners

Alliant Energy serves roughly 490,000 electric and 225,000 natural gas customers in Iowa as part of its mission to deliver the energy solutions and exceptional service on which its customers depend. In 2019, Alliant made the largest single donation to CIRAS in the center’s history to support a new laboratory where manufacturers could experiment with new technologies to make them more productive. Iowa State University’s Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy opened in September 2019.

The Iowa Area Development Group (IADG) was founded in 1985 as an economic development arm of rural Iowa utility companies. With special access to financial resources, IADG can help CIRAS clients find grants or subsidized loans to expand their businesses and grow in rural communities.

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) is Iowa’s largest statewide business organization, with more than 1,500 member companies representing 330,000 working Iowans.

The Iowa Association of Community College Trustees’ (IACCT) efforts focus on strengthening the network of community colleges located across the state. Through their work, they emphasize the impact of community colleges, given their ability to empower the surrounding people, businesses, and communities.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DoT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, a Civil Rights Bureau administered program ensures that Disadvantaged Businesses are able to receive the support they deserve in order to expand successfully. By offering opportunities to disadvantaged businesses, the DOT can provide for both the businesses and the surrounding communities.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) was created to strengthen Iowa’s economic vitality by encouraging new people and businesses to choose Iowa and by helping existing businesses and communities to thrive. CIRAS leaders work closely with IEDA officials to shape and implement policies aimed at growing Iowa manufacturing, while APEX government contracting specialists regularly assist companies in IEDA’s Targeted Small Business program who are pursuing government contracting. IEDA also is a major supporter of the Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy.

The Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa program provides education, training, and financing to help emerging rural businesses grow. The program’s “Journey to Your Vision” seminars, among others, are frequently used by CIRAS clients to overcome challenges in a new business and grow the skills necessary for further development.

The Iowa Sustainable Business Forum (ISBF), which CIRAS helped form, is a group of Iowa companies that use networking and education to share best practices in sustainability. Membership information can be found on the ISBF website.

The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City was created to assist new and emerging businesses with planning, financing, and identifying customers. NIACC works closely with CIRAS through a subcontract to help manufacturing companies find the resources they need to grow.

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Calmar is a major resource for CIRAS clients seeking industry-related education. NICC provides a wide variety of training throughout northeast Iowa with a focus on the region’s economic growth.

The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce proudly supports local economic development through continued advocacy for small businesses. Community empowerment is at the forefront of their work, and their attention to the needs of local entrepreneurs has led to extensive economic growth across the Quad Cities.


Iowa State University Resources

CIRAS works with faculty and staff across Iowa State University to bring a wide variety of expertise to the center’s clients. Depending on individual needs, CIRAS can help companies find access to testing laboratories, arrange faculty research, or help them hire Iowa State students. Iowa State entities that work closely with CIRAS include:

Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR) – CCUR is a multidisciplinary research, development, and technology transfer program at Iowa State that seeks to increase and enhance Iowa agriculture. CIRAS helps clients find the most effective way to work with CCUR faculty and facilities, in addition to helping companies plot the correct course once research is complete.

Center for Nondestructive Evaluation (CNDE) – CIRAS uses CNDE to help companies solve problems, monitor processes, and/or verify performance using a host of innovative inspection and sensing technologies. CIRAS clients can have products or parts evaluated through any number of methods, including x-ray, ultrasonic, or eddy current.

College of Engineering (COE) – CIRAS has been part of Iowa State’s College of Engineering for more than 55 years and continues to work closely with COE faculty and staff. CIRAS clients have access to faculty expertise for research and technical assistance, as well as an entry point for connecting with graduating students.

Department of Economics – Iowa State economists work with CIRAS to measure key statistics and performance measures of Iowa manufacturers. Among other places, this data appears in CIRAS analyses of various Iowa industries and in the annual CIRAS Manufacturing in Iowa report.

Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) – EHS provides technical health and safety assistance to CIRAS clients. This includes CIRAS-arranged online training modules designed to help Iowa manufacturers comply with applicable health and safety regulations.

Engineering Career Services – CIRAS actively works with Iowa companies to promote the hiring of Iowa State’s student engineers. Career Services can assist CIRAS clients in recruiting for internships or permanent employment, including arranging a presence for your company at Iowa State’s twice-yearly career fairs.

Extension and Outreach – CIRAS works closely with Extension leaders each fall to organize statewide celebrations of national Manufacturing Day. The gatherings ensure that Iowans throughout the state are able to learn of the benefits of a potential career in advanced manufacturing.

Iowa Grain Quality Initiative (IGQI) – The IGQI partners with CIRAS to provide food and feed safety education and implementation training to business throughout Iowa. Companies learn details of safety regulations and specific steps they need to take to make their operations compliant.

Meat Science Extension – Iowa State’s Meat Science Laboratory is a federally-inspected facility with the capability for slaughtering and complete processing of meat animals and poultry. Meat Science Extension uses the lab regularly to provide Iowa businesses with educational programming about the best and safest ways to process meat for sale, distribution, and consumption. CIRAS clients receive various types of food safety training through Meat Science Extension, while Meat Science clients are regularly sent to CIRAS to improve other aspects of their businesses.

Structural Engineering Research Laboratory – The 6,900-square-foot laboratory includes a 20-ton overhead crane, numerous hydraulic actuators, and several large testing floors where researchers test bridge loads and search for new methods for making structures safer and more cost-efficient. CIRAS can help clients access this equipment for testing a variety of products, parts, or equipment. CIRAS experts then will work closely with companies to interpret test data and make any changes that are required once the results are known.


Industry Consortia

Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) – The Iowa Lean Consortium (now part of CIRAS) is a dynamic, member-driven non-profit dedicated to advancing Lean in all sectors of our economy. Driven by member needs, the ILC can provide the philosophy, tools, and techniques to meet today’s business challenges through members serving members –  including but not limited to the following sectors: manufacturing, service/transaction, businesses, education, healthcare, and government.

Polymer and Food Protection Consortium – A multidisciplinary, centralized hub for companies and state regulators to receive independent reviews of packaging. CIRAS helps clients access consortium resources to study and improve food packaging for a competitive advantage.