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The Middle Bit: Week of Feb. 19

Each week, Clay & Milk will curate a rundown of startup, tech and innovation news from “the middle.” Check back every Friday for that week’s Middle Bit.


Citing privacy-rights concerns, Amazon is fighting against requests from police in Arkansas for the company to provide recordings from an Echo device connected to a murder investigation. Via TechCrunch


Google is bringing its wireless Gigabit Internet service to Denver. Via The Denver Post

Boulder-based SlamData, an open-source software firm, has raised a $6.7 million Series A. Via The Denver Post


ChicagoInno looked at the startups bolstering the city’s ability to become a hub for innovation in the automotive world. Via ChicagoInno

The CEO of the Illinois Technology Association, Fred Hoch, left the position. Via The Chicago Tribune


Legislation making its way through Iowa’s statehouse targeting Des Moines’ water utility has raised concerns it could negatively affect progress of Microsoft’s third West Des Moines data center. Via The Des Moines Register

Grand View University in Des Moines announced it will add a Game Design and Interactive Analytics major this fall and start an eSports program. Via press release

Multiple profiles emerged of HomeDitty, a new Des Moines company looking to match musicians with people wanting to host concerts in their homes. Via The Des Moines Register/Silicon Prairie News


Ann Arbor’s Clinc, which has developed an AI personal assistant for financial information, raised a $6.3 million Series A. Via TechCrunch

The Middle, Broadly

Steve Case sat down with The Wall Street Journal to talk about his “Rise of the Rest” tour and how to grow startup investment outside of the coasts. Via The Wall Street Journal

Ann Arbor, Denver and Houston are among the cities Verizon has chosen to test its 5G network. Via The Detroit Free Press

Silicon Prairie News announced the finalists for its annual awards. They include Iowa companies Pear Deck, AgriSync,, Flitebrite. Via Silicon Prairie News


Three Bitcoin ATMs have come to St. Louis, marking Coinsource’s first entry into the Midwest. Via

A panel in St. Louis advocated for the city’s ag-tech hub, 39 North, to do more community outreach and development. Via The St. Louis Business Journal

Kansas City will play host to a national student entrepreneur competition in March. Via Startland News


Tech.MN profiled Dispatch, a Minnesota startup looking to break into the courier and delivery industry. Via Tech.MN


An entrepreneur in Omaha may be finding traction for his sprayable duck fat that can be used like Pam cooking spray. Via The Omaha World Herald

North Dakota

Emerging Prairie gave a roundup of the recent “Prairie Capital Summit,” including insights gathered about the startup community. Via Emerging Prairie


The Void, a Utah company, is offering the next innovation for virtual reality, developing a way to map virtual worlds over physical sets. Via The New York Times

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

1 Comment

  • Aaron Horn (@HornIT)
    Posted February 28, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    HowFactory is also an Iowan company nominated for an SPN award.

Comments are closed.

The Middle Bit: Week of Feb. 19 | 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
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