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Middle Bit: Third ISU Startup Factory cohort starts with 11; Iowa AgriTech Accelerator adds sixth startup

A third cohort of 11 companies were announced Tuesday to participate in the Iowa State University Startup Factory program, according to a news release.

According to the release, entrepreneurs in the ISU Startup Factory receive formal training, resources and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks. The first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second is customized to their individual business needs.

The ISU Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program at the Iowa State University Research Park that provides students, faculty and staff avenues to create technology-based businesses.

“We are looking for strategic partners who would like to surround themselves with successful startups, building essentially a network effect within the community we’ve started here,” program leader Bill Adamowski  said. “By co-locating here, stakeholders can build relationships with the startup companies right here in our ISU Startup Factory space.”

Companies in the program represent industries such as drone technology, biomedicine and agriculture.

Additionally, organizers shared that members of the first cohort officially graduated from the program. The first chohort started last summer with ten companies.

Iowa-City company joins AgriTech Accelerator

Iowa City-based Farrpro was added as the sixth startup for the AgriTech Accelerator program’s Class of 2017.

Executive Director Megan Vollstedt told Clay & Milk Thursday morning the company was added as the company started its fourth of a 100-day program.

According to a news release, Farrpro designed a type of heater for farrowing facilities that creates a microclimate for piglets with the aims of reducing energy costs.

It joins five other companies who were announced in June.

The release also announced KNL Works Strategy Advisor Kerty Levy, c.Results Founder Charise Flynn and former interim director of The Accelerator, Tej Dhawan as Entrepreneurs in Residence for the program. They spend dedicated time in the office mentoring the startups throughout the 100-day program.

Airport art collection is newsworthy

Travelers exploring the terminals at the Denver International Airport can view an art collection that has been the subject of conspiracy theories dating back to the airport’s construction, according to a story published Monday at

The collection is collectively valued at over $14 million,

According to the story, new technical difficulties have emerged in the maintenance and display of its ambitious permanent installations.

The DIA art collection is managed by the city’s public art program and a cultural commission, who provide counsel to the airport about which works to purchase using funds from the city’s Percent for Art program, which sets aside 1% of the budget for any major municipal capital-improvement construction project for public art.

What else happened…


Chicago Sun Times sold – Reuters

Esquify, a Chicago, Ill. based provider of a legal technology platform for human document review, secured $710K in seed funding.


Bear reported in Iowa soybean field – Des Moines Register

City in Iowa looks to restrict panhandling – Associated Press

The Iowa Arts Council named its five fellows for 2017 – Iowa Arts Council


Minnesota’s AG sues Century Link over billing – Star Tribune

Target shares jump Thursdsy –


Lake of the Ozarks resort sold – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NewLeaf Symbiotics, a biological crop input startup closed a $24 million Series C round –

Kansas City is a place people want to stay –

Lean Lan welcomes five new ed tech startups –


Abercrombie takes itself off the block – Associated Press

Middle Bit: Third ISU Startup Factory cohort starts with 11; Iowa AgriTech Accelerator adds sixth startup | 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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