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Middle Bit: Ames named top startup community by SPN; Hy-Vee expands offerings in Des Moines

Fourteen Midwestern startup communities were ranked by the Silicon Prairie News in the first ever “State of the Silicon Prairie Report” that found Ames being the top startup community.

According to the report, SPN partnered with Chapman and Company, a regional consulting firm to create the report. An algorithm was created with the intent of identifying significant building blocks for all ecosystems, and weighing those building blocks against one another.

Rounding out the top five were Kansas City, Mo; St. Louis, Mo; Lincoln, Neb.; Des Moines, Iowa.

The complete list:

  1. Ames, Iowa
  2. Kansas City, Mo.
  3. St. Louis, Mo.
  4. Lincoln, Neb.
  5. Des Moines, Iowa
  6. Iowa City, Iowa
  7. Columbia, Mo.
  8. Omaha, Neb.
  9. Sioux City, Iowa
  10. Sioux Falls, N.D.
  11. Lawrence, Kan.
  12. Manhattan, Kan.
  13. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  14. Wichita, Kan.

Hy-Vee focuses on health

The newest concept for the West Des Moines, Iowa based grocer is a health market with a health food store, pharmacy, clinic, fitness studio and even groceries that will open in western Urbandale, according to The Des Moines Register.

According to The Register, the new building will be 17,000 square-feet on 4.25 acres in. The fitness center would be the second for the company that would include nutrition consultations and fitness classes.

The health clinic will be similar to those in about 58 other Hy-Vee stores, according to The Register.

Hy-Vee has about 240 stores in eight states.

Detroit venture firm closes with $45 million

A young, early-stage venture firm in Detroit – Ludlow Ventures – closed its second venture fund with $45 million in capital commitments, according to techcrunch.

According to the story, Ludlow Ventures was originally aiming for $40 million and its investors, or limited partners, include four institutions, along with numerous family offices and high-net-worth individuals.

Dan Gilbert – owner of the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers – is a partner in Ludlow Ventures, according to the story.

What else happened…


• Q&A w/ Chipotle’s Produce Safety Manager on responding to crises using tech –


• The Safe + Fair Food Company – a Chicago-based food startup – raised $10 million in Series C funding. Acre Venture Partners led the round.


• Iowa beef company can export to China –


• Proxibid appoints Damon Peters Chief Marketing Officer –


• Target launches its new quick delivery service –


• Columbus insurance tech company raises $5 million from one investor –

• PatientPoint – a Cincinnati, Ohio based – exam room education display program provider raised $140 million in funding, according to Reuters. Investors include Searchlight Capital Partners and Silver Point Capital.

Middle Bit: Ames named top startup community by SPN; Hy-Vee expands offerings in Des Moines | 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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