Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

The Middle Bit: Week of April 23

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.


Oracle launches “startups inside Oracle” centers to create new-age tech for its customers, with locations in Virginia and Colorado. Business Insider

Arvada-based construction tech company Prescient announced the close of a $40 million Series D. Built In Colorado


Ex-Walgreens CEO launches start-up tech venture. USA Today

Chicago-based venture philanthropy launches a $1M nationwide healthcare challengeChicagoInno

Origin Ventures closes its fourth venture capital fund with $80 million in fundingBuilt In Chicago


Plaid & Dwolla announce new partnership to offer fully tokenized ACH payment integration. PR Newswire

Several UI Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center Founders Club students presented their newly established businesses at the Hawkeye Innovation Expo on April 21. The Daily Iowan

Local emerging fashion designer, Emily Carlson of WRITTEN Apparel, to join forces with fellow female designers for the Women’s Empowerment Fashion Show sponsored by Born Leaders United. Press Release

Max Farrell and Andrew Kirpalani, Co-Founders of WorkHound, share five lessons learned at the April Square One DSM Startup Stories event. DSM Partnership


Edward Jones partners with SixThirty to support financial technology startups. EQ

The Kauffman Foundation has launched a grant program to award up to $7 million to programs around the nation with grants ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. Startland News

Mobility Designed raises nearly $900K from iiM, local investors. Startland News


The Middle Bit: Week of April 23 | 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