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Middle Bit: Tesla buys Minnesota-based Perbix


Electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. has bought Perbix—a Minnesota based company—that over the past few years has built some of the advanced equipment used in Tesla factories, according to a story Tuesday in the StarTribune.

According to the story, Perbix will remain at its site in Brooklyn Park and become a Minnesota engineering outpost for Tesla.

Tesla said Monday it will add to the Perbix staff of 150 people and that nobody will be relocated.

Prebix started making machining equipment 41 years ago and has been working with Tesla for nearly three years, according to the StarTribune.

Prebix has also worked on automated tools for Tesla that includes a system that makes the drive-unit rotors in its cars.

Opendorse raises $3.5 million

A Lincoln-based athlete marketing platform—Opendorse—raised $3.5 million in Series A funding, according to a story Monday in the Lincoln Journal Star.

Opendorse helps connect athletes with companies and brands seeking endorsements. Serra Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Flyover Capital.

Former Nebraska and current Chicago Bears defensive back Prince Amukamara led a group of former Husker players to provide more than one-third of the round of investment, according to the story.

Opendorse works with more than 2,400 athletes and its brand partners include the NFL Players Association, PGA Tour, New Jersey Devils and more than 15 major college athletic departments.

What else happened…


Former Whole Foods co-CEO joins Colorado Startup –


Des Moines has a strong arts community: This plan explains how it can grow – The Des Moines Register


For people of color, starting a business, access to capital remains a challenge –


KCI airport vote should help land top talent, startup leaders say –

Missouri Technology Corporation still investing in innovation despite tough budget – SPN


CyberPatriot competition engages youth in STEM learning – SPN


Foxconn and CEO guarantee up to $500 million for job creation at Wisconsin plant –

National stories involving Iowa

Where the small-town American dream lives on (Orange City, Iowa) –

Middle Bit: Tesla buys Minnesota-based Perbix | 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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