On With Life, Wintersteen named 2024 innovationIOWA Award winners

The Business Record today announces its 2024 innovationIOWA Award recipients. 

On With Life, a nonprofit providing rehabilitation services to individuals with brain injuries and neurological conditions, is the innovationLEADER of the Year. Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen is the EO Iowa innovationENTREPRENEUR of the Year.

The recipients of the annual innovationIOWA awards are nominated by members of the community and selected by Business Record leaders.

CEO Jean Shelton leads On With Life, including its efforts to offer and develop assistive technologies that help patients with their recoveries. On With Life is the first nonprofit to receive the innovationLEADER Award.

Wintersteen has led Iowa State since 2017 with a focus on fostering and promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship on campus through initiatives like the Student Innovation Center and the Start Something network, a portfolio of academic courses in innovation and entrepreneurship offered in every undergraduate college. The Ames-based land grant university received national and international recognitions for its entrepreneurship curriculum and programming in recent years.

Each winner will be profiled in the 2024 innovationIOWA Magazine. Here is one question we asked them:

How do you define innovation?

Shelton: Innovation occurs when we really listen to our audience. Some of our most innovative practices have been the result of taking the time to really hear about and understand the problem or challenge. Technology, information and data is so readily available it can become overwhelming. Yet a simple response to a well-understood problem typically wins the day.

Wintersteen: Innovation seems to be one expression of Kaizen, or “continuous improvement.” It may be a small step or a great leap, but it’s forward focused. Whether it is your personal career or your business, you need an innovation mindset.

Business Record event: Making Iowa an innovation leader

Register now for innovationIOWA event on July 11

Innovation is visible in all corners of the state and in every industry. It is necessary for the success of our economy. For it to thrive, communities, companies, entrepreneurs and stakeholders in education, risk capital and government must continuously adapt to quickly changing technology and the overall business climate. Save the date for a panel discussion that explores the innovation ecosystem and dives into the status of innovation in Iowa, where the state is headed and what work can help keep the state moving forward.

The discussion, set for July 11 in Des Moines, will center on the actions that everyone, whatever their position in the community, can take to build up the state’s stature on innovation into the future. You’ll hear from this group of leaders:


  • Tej Dhawan, co-founder and managing partner, Plains Angels
  • Martin Gross, founder and CEO, Gross-Wen Technologies
  • Candi Karsjens, director, NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center
  • Yen Verhoeven, founder and CEO, Qi Learning Research Group
  • Jeff Reed, founder and CEO, Momentum Studios

Also, get your copy of the 2024 innovationIOWA Magazine and help honor Wintersteen and On With Life.

General admission tickets are now available, and corporate table requests can be made through June 14. There are a limited number of corporate table sponsorships available on a first-come, first-served basis. Sponsorships must be reserved by June 14. If you are interested, please fill out this inquiry form. If you have questions, please email lynnebelknap@bpcdm.com or chriscoan@bpcdm.com

Event details:

Thursday, July 11 | 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Des Moines Heritage Center

Register here