Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Have you ever had a great idea and though “someone should do that”?

Sometimes you have to be the change you want to see.

With generous support from Iowa Economic Development Authority, the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development is debuting its prototyping facility “protostudios” tomorrow at EntreFEST – which bills itself as the largest gathering of Iowa’s entrepreneurial and innovation community.


Located in the new MERGE space at 136 S. Dubuque Street, protostudios is a state-of-the-art, rapid-prototyping facility focusing on biomedical and electronics prototyping, and is available to all Iowa entrepreneurs.

“A prototype is the preliminary model of a product,” said Chuck Romans, protostudios’ 3D Design Prototyping Director. “It’s the next step in the commercial design process and allows a product to be tested and changed if necessary before moving on to commercial manufacturing.”

Budding ideas are shepherded through the prototyping process with the assistance of Romans as well as Neil Quellhorst, engineering prototype director and a veteran of Honeywell and Rockwell Collins.

“My alternative title is shop teacher,” Quellhorst quips. “Together Chuck and I can help create products that are visually and ergonomically attractive and grounded in solid design principles. Our experience is what sets us apart from other prototyping hubs.”

protostudios, considered a “dry lab,” has a “wet lab” counterpart in the Translational Research Incubator (TRI) located in the Bowen Science Building on the UI’s west campus. Both labs are part of a parallel incubation strategy to help advance promising ideas through prototyping, initial funding, and startup creation that will also involve establishing space in the UI Research Park.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.