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Middle Bit: Iowa preps for automated vehicles; Kauffman Foundation donates $78,000 grant

Automated Vehicles

The State of Iowa began looking into automated vehicles about a year and a half ago, according to a story at last week.

According to the story, Scott Marler, the director of traffic operations for the Iowa Department of Transportation, told GCN that the state has partnered with the company HERE to, “Start looking at what, “might we need to be examining to be preparing for this future of automated vehicles both in Iowa and the country.”

The state hasn’t made any decisions but is working with HERE on developing high-definition maps that automated vehicles would use, according to the story.

“Our crystal ball is cloudy,” Marler told GCN. “No one has the perfect answer to any of this.”

Kauffman Foundation makes donation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation donated a $78,600 grant to the Kansas City Startup Foundation, according to a story on Tuesday.

According to the story, the Kansas City Startup Foundation—which operates—used the grant to hire Tommy Felts as its managing editor. Felts will help the website expand its editorial capacity.

Erin Jenkins, program officer in entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, said the Kansas City Startup Foundation plays an important role in telling the stories of the startup community in Kansas City.

“The KCSF’s role in connecting the Kansas City startup community through Startland News and the StartupKC Help Desk helps build a vibrant, resource-rich entrepreneurial ecosystem here at home,” Jenkins told

Denver marijuana tech firm expanding

MassRoots Inc.,—a Denver-based marijuana tech and social media firm—is planning on acquiring web-based rules and regulations company CannaRegs Ltd. in a $12 million stock transaction, according to a story in The Cannabist Wednesday.

According to the story, CannRegs developed a database of cannabis rules and regulations. The aquisition by MassRoots will allow it to bulk up its software offerings.

What else happened…


Truss—a Deerfield, Ill. based commercial real estate tech platform—raised $7.7 million in Series A funding — Tech Crunch


Terva lands seed money from Ag Startup Engine – Business Record


NGA hopes more tech firms cluster in St. Louis – St. Louis Post Dispatch

Drones help with Eclipse watching –

Tommy Felts: How ruffled business feathers led me to Startland –

Startups are driving job growth in Kansas City – Kansas City Business Journal

Amazon employs 2,200, more than expected – The St. Louis Post Dispatch


Women’s Startup Lab is looking for their next class – SPN 


Middle Bit: Iowa preps for automated vehicles; Kauffman Foundation donates $78,000 grant | 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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