Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

The Middle Bit: Week of May 7

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.


Illinois Senate passes legislation to slash start-up costsIllinois Policy

Furniture startup Interior Define raises $8M. Built In Chicago

Listen Ventures wants to find the next B2C startup success in Chicago. ChicagoInno


American Farm Bureau Federation contest promotes rural economic growth for entrepreneurial food/agriculture businesses. Iowa Farm Bureau

New event series to inform, educate and inspire business owners. Greater Des Moines Partnership

New Iowa City space wants to incubate the next brick-and-mortar stores. The Gazette


MedTech Conventus secures $20M in Series C funding round. Twin Cities Business

Be The Match subsidiary emerges as a Biotech Venture playerTwin Cities Business

New technology investment fund looks to invest $50k-$100k into emerging tech companies. TechMN


KC tech startup partners with Children’s Mercy to help diagnose, manage care. Startland News

CNBC recently featured Victor Hwang, Kauffman Foundation VP, to discuss gaps in entrepreneurship. Startland News

Opera Theatre St. Louis engages startups with special events geared toward innovation community. EQ STL

Applications are due for the Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator May 19. Prosper STL


Dundee Venture Capital closes $31m fund to back Midwest tech startups. Startland News 

Lincoln accelerator NMotion announces 2017 cohortsSilicon Prairie News

Bigger Than the Middle: What We Read this Week

On Nonconformity: Artist Ben Shahn’s Spirited Defense of Nonconformists as Society’s Engine of Growth and Greatness. Brain Pickings

When Giants FallThe New Yorker

One CEO explains why the best time to change everything is when it’s working out great. Fast Company

How privacy became a commodity for the rich and powerful. The New York Times Magazine

How a humble pineapple became art. The New York Times

Dance of death: are the days of the moshpit numbered? The Guardian

A Clay & Milk Cartoon by Nathan T. Wright. Clay & Milk

Jami Milne is the interim managing editor of Clay & Milk. Send her an email at


The Middle Bit: Week of May 7 | 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