Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Agiloak: Coming to Iowa City out of necessity


Technology to keep elderly homeowners in their home is making its way to North America this summer.

Originally based in Chester of the United Kingdom, Agiloak is a health and social care technology company that developed a smart home monitoring system to enable elderly people who live alone to continue living independently.

The Agiloak home monitoring system—BenignEye—monitors daily activities in a nonintrusive manner and provides information and alerts to families or care organizations when abnormalities occur.

The technology was first developed by Nick Jones and his brother, for their mom who was suffering from vision and hearing problems as she got older.

“Our mom wasn’t unique with elderly challenges trying to live independently,” Jones says. “So my brother for a while now has been rolling that out into a product for about nine months now and they finally feel like they are ready to roll it out.”

Jones said the BenignEye technology will go to market next month in the United Kingdom. He’s hopeful to bring it to market by June in the United States.


Coming to America

Having an Agiloak distributor in the United States wasn’t in the original business plan.

But because of Matty Jones—Nick’s son—who has a very rare auto-immune condition which caused his kidneys to fail, the Jones family relocated to Iowa City in March of 2017.

Jones said Iowa City has the best labs in the world for this condition.

“There’s a doctor here who has a daughter with the same condition as my son, it’s very, very rare,” Jones says. “They don’t have a cure yet but they are really on top of it here more than anywhere in the world.”

After discussions during Christmas with his brother, Jones said they decided to explore a distribution plan for North America.

Working with researchers

Along with its home monitoring system BenignEye, Jones said he’s also working on a mobile app—KBudd—with researchers at the University of Iowa so patients can better track and take their medications.

“My son is on the transplant list for a kidney and the biggest risk to any transplant patient is not complying with your medications,” Jones says.

He said working from Merge and being involved with the Iowa City startup community has helped ease the transition from the UK to Iowa.

“Everybody here views a new venture with the attitude of, ‘This is going to be awesome’ and they help you in any way they can,” Jones said. “We’re really enthused by the energy and the positivity here.”

Agiloak: Coming to Iowa City out of necessity | 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
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now