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Coralville’s Higher Learning Technologies announces $8 million investment

Higher Learning Technologies

Higher Learning Technologies—a Coralville-based technology company— announced it raised $8 million in investments to boost its mobile study apps, according to a story in The Gazette Wednesday morning.

According to the report, Higher Learning Technologies will hire additional staff and increase its app development with the $8 million investment.

Higher Learning Technologies started in 2012 and has raised about $15 million overall, according to The Gazette.

HLT started with a single study app for dental students and now has a catalog of more than 100. They have 20 for nursing and view themselves as the new version of textbooks. Rather than carry a book or sitting in a library, users can view the textbook on their smart phone on-the-go.

“We started out in the beginning just focusing on nursing and dental and now we’re expanding much more broadly essentially as a mobile publishing company,” CEO Alec Whitters told The Gazette.

Higher Learning Technologies currently has 44 employees.

The most recent investment round includes previous backers of HLT such as Iowa and New York angel investors and Next Level Ventures, a Des Moines-based venture capital fund that focuses on investing in Iowa.

This is the eighth investment Next Level Ventures has made in an Iowa company.

Coralville's Higher Learning Technologies announces $8 million investment | 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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