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Startups receive funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority

Iowa Startups

Over $600,000 was awarded to seven startups Friday by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, according to a news release Friday afternoon.

The funds come from: the Demonstration Fund, the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund and the Proof of Commerical Relevance Fund.

Here are the seven Iowa-based startups who were approved for funding:

  • Accelerated Ag Technologies – A biotechnology startup based in Ankeny that increases agricultural productivity by increasing the world’s seed and grain supply by enabling hybrid production systems, with a focus on cross-pollination. They were awarded a $300,000 loan from the Iowa Innovation Acceleration fund for refinement and the development of technology called PowerPollen.
  • InfraDrone – A data analytics and machine learning company based in Des Moines. InfraDrone uses drones and data analytics to visually inspect points of concern for the infrastructure, energy and insurance industries. They were awarded a $100,000 loan from the Demonstration Fund for product refinement, market planning and entry activities.
  • – A Des Moines-based company that has developed a product to merge insulators and LED lights. This electric fence insulator helps livestock and orchard managers protect property and manage electric fences. Insulights was awarded a $100,000 loan from the Demonstration Fund for market planning and market entry activities.
  • Optimum Fleet Health – A Davenport-based company offering a SaaS model to provide condition-based maintenance reports to diesel-based transportation fleets. They were awarded a $100,000 loan from the Demonstration Fund for hiring and market planning activities.
  • StemBox – A Des Moines-based company that offers a monthly subscription box to send girls ages seven through 12 to encourage science, technology, engineering and math careers. StemBox was awarded a $25,000 loan from the Proof of Commerical Relevance Fund for market planning and market entry activities.
  • SwineTech – The Cedar Rapids-based company developed a product to reduce the number of pigs that die from piglet crushing, disease, lameness and starvation. The company was awarded a $100,000 loan from the Demonstration Fund for hiring and market activities.
  • STRATAFOLIO – A Cedar Rapids-based company that has developed technology for commercial property owners to sort data. They were awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for product refinement and market analysis.

Award recommendations are made by the Technology Commercialization Committee to the Iowa Economic Development Authority board for approval.

The Demonstration Fund provides financial and technical assistance to Iowa companies in the advanced manufacturing, biosciences and information technology industries; the Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) Fund provides financial assistance to innovative businesses pursuing proof of commercial relevance and marketability of a technology.

The Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund promotes formation and growth of businesses that engage in the transfer of technology to competitive, profitable companies that create high-paying jobs

In total, the board approved $50 million in capital investment in Iowa at their monthly meeting Friday.

Past coverage:

Four startups receive funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority – Jan. 19

Startups receive funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority – Nov. 20, 2017

Nine startups receive funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority – Sept. 25, 2017

Three companies receive grant funding – Aug. 18, 2017

Startups receive funding from the Iowa Economic Development Authority | 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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