Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

News you may have missed

While we were getting Clay & Milk up and running, we missed some news. So, here’s a brief look at stories we thought worth noting.

We kept this constrained to Iowa so as not to overwhelm the list. Think we missed something or have a story idea for Clay & Milk? Send us a tip.

Late October 2016

iConnect Corp. in Cedar Rapids closed an investment round of about $2.4 million. Iowa venture fund Next Level Ventures led the round. Via press release/Form D

November 2016

Des Moines-based Dwolla announced that it was shutting down its consumer app to focus on selling its API and white-label products. Via The Des Moines Register/press release

The Technology Association of Iowa announced its 2016 Iowa Women of Innovation award winners. Via TAI press release

Nine startups received funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Via IEDA press release

Iowa City-based MetaCommunications named CFO Scott Kokotan as its interim CEO. The company did not say why former CEO Bob Long was no longer in the position. Via MetaCommunications press release

An activist fund pushed Cedar Rapids-based Rockwell Collins to drop its $6.4 billion acquisition of B/E Aerospace. The same fund reportedly pressured Rockwell to consider selling itself. Via Bloomberg/The Gazette

December 2016

That Dragon, Cancer — the indie videogame co-created by Iowan Josh Larson — won the “Games for Impact” award during the 2016 Games Awards. Creator Ryan Green gave a tearful speech about the power of videogames when accepting the award. Via Polygon.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is seeking $2 million in the form of a public-private partnership to help expand broadband access throughout the state. Via The Mason City Globe Gazette

Gross-Wen Technologies, an Iowa Startup Factory member, announced it raised $225,000 from angel investor Dave Furbush, the founder of Midwest Project Partners. Via Gross-Wen press release

Coralville-based Vida Diagnostics announced it had raised a $5.1 million investment round, led by Chartline Capital Partners, Rittenhouse Ventures and Next Level Ventures, among others. The company is working on precision pulmonary imaging software. Via Vida Diagnostics press release

Microsoft secured the land for its third data center in West Des Moines, named “Project Osmium.” The company paid $8.4 million for about 160 acres. Via The Business Record

An Ebola vaccine with ties to Ames-based NewLink Genetics was found to be 100 percent effective against the fatal virus. NewLink eventually licensed it to pharmaceutical giant Merck, which is manufacturing the vaccine. Via NBC News/The Lancet

Iowa State University’s Startup Factory announced it second cohort of startups. Twelve new ones will join an existing 10 that are halfway through their time in the program. Via Startup Factory press release

January 2017

A new state law regulating insurance and other requirements for ride-hailing companies like Uber went into effect Jan. 1. Via Iowa Public Radio

Look for roundups of Midwest innovation news every Friday in Clay & Milk’s “The Middle Bit.”

Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at

News you may have missed | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now