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The Middle Bit: Week of May 14

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.


Cloud-based fraud prevention startup Precognitive raises $1.25MChicagoInno

Chicago-based Uptake ranked No. 5 on CNBC’s list of Most Disruptive Companies. ChicagoInno

Chicago HS student using machine learning to fight cancer featured at Google I/O. ChicagoInno


Edtech Startup Higher Learning Technologies secures $6

Apply for the Pappajohn Iowa Entrepreneurial Venture Competition. Gravitate

Wells Fargo seeks applications for startup accelerator program. Business Record


KC nonprofit leader will advise FCC committee on broadband. Startland News

Leawood Venture Capital opens new $25 million startup fundStartland News

Kauffman Foundation: National startup activity continues to improveKauffman Foundation


Midland University launches Corporate Entrepreneurship Certificate Program. Silicon Prairie News

Get caught up on what’s happening at Big OmahaSilicon Prairie News

Bigger Than the Middle: What We Read this Week

These are the arguments against net neutrality — and why they’re wrong. TechCrunch

“You can’t understand the modern world if you can’t imagine selling what you love best.” The New York Times Magazine

If Donald Trump were actually a batteryThe New Yorker

This MIT student’s origami building blocks could make you more creativeFast Company

Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the 21st Century. Chuck Klosterman

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




The Middle Bit: Week of May 14 | 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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