(Des Moines) -- Officials with the Iowa Economic Development Authority are trying to increase entrepreneurship in the state.

IDEA Director Debi Durham is informing the public about special funds available to individuals want to start a new business. One of those funds available through Durham's agency is the Demonstration Fund. She says the fund is designed for financial and technical assistance, and to encourage high-technology prototypes.

"It's really gap financing coming in at the right time, strategically-placed, to help a company do proof of concept, or give them some proof that this is worth going with," said Durham.

Durham says the Demonstration Fund provides money at the early stages of a project, when it's hard for entrepreneurs to find traditional means of funding from banks or other financial institutions.

"We believe that by us helping at an early stage, it helps them get on a solid ground, so that they can begin to look for more traditional means of funding," she said.

Up to $150,000 is available for projects. However, Durham says each proposal goes through a screening process before receiving that funding.

"We negotiate everything," Durham said. "So, we only give the company or the start up what they need to get up to that next level. Sometimes, that's a $25,000 grant. Other times, it is $150,000, but it's a low-interest loan for a period of time."

Also available to entrepreneurs is the Innovation Acceleration Fund. Anyone with questions regarding either program should email debidurham@iowa.gov or log onto the Iowa Economic Development Authority's website.

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