University of Northern Iowa

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Empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.

R. J. McElroy Student Business Incubator

SBI Panorama

The R. J. McElroy Student Business Incubator, a program of the UNI John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC), is an educational learning laboratory designed to inspire and educate students interested in entrepreneurship and small business. The SBI program was originally funded by the Small Business Administration and private donors. Currently the SBI is funded by the R. J. McElroy Trust. These funds allow student business owners to explore business ideas with the assistance of JPEC staff and other professionals. Current UNI students and teams of students are eligible to apply. Students from other area colleges and high schools will also be considered. Students are admitted on an on-going basis and must demonstrate adequate progress to remain in the program.

PresentationThere are three levels of service available to students — networking, business support or physical incubation.

  • Networking services are for students interested in learning more about entrepreneurship: program offerings include the student entrepreneurs organization, UNI-E and access to campus and community networking opportunities.
  • Business support services are for students working on a business concept (pre-revenue stage): program offerings include one-on-one business consulting with JPEC staff and access to co-working space in JPEC. 
  • Physical incubation space is available for students who have a business: program offerings include admittance in the R.J. McElroy Student Business Incubator program with 24/7 access to dedicated office space located in the JPEC.  

All programming developed by the JPEC staff is designed to increase the chances for student entrepreneurial success. Students will graduate from any of the three programs equipped with the skills and experience necessary to create a positive influence on the Iowa economy and beyond.  

How To Apply For Physical Incubation Space

The first step to being considered for the R. J. McElroy Student Business Incubator program is to review this presentation on business opportunity development and incubation and complete the quiz. Upon completion of the quiz, you will gain access to the application, complete and e-mail to and a JPEC staff member will contact you to schedule an interview.

The Pre-incubation Training Quiz can be accessed here.

For more information on JPEC services, call 319-273-JPEC (5732) or email