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Middle Bit: Ames and Des Moines listed as one of 5 Up-and-Coming Tech Hotspots

Ames and Des Moines have been listed as one of the top five up and coming tech hotspots in an article by Livability.

“Iowa is another state considered to be a star of the “Silicon Prairie.” The capital city of Des Moines in particular is a stand out — it’s officially the fastest-growing city in the Midwest after successful efforts to recruit and attract millennials,” read the article.

Livability also listed Ames as one of the best cities for entrepreneurs in 2017, citing the city’s top 10 rank in educational attainment top 5 rank in high wage job growth as reasons for making the list. Des Moines also recently ranked among the top 12 cities for tech hiring in the first half of 2018.

Volunteer Iowa announces $12.7 million in support for National Service Programs in Iowa

Volunteer Iowa has approved $12.7 million in federal and state AmeriCorps funding that will leverage private and local funding to support 980 AmeriCorps members.

Iowa will now have nearly 1,600 AmeriCorps members serving, and over 7,600 National Service positions. AmeriCorps State grants provide funding to local organizations to support AmeriCorps members meeting critical community needs in the areas of education, disaster services, health, environmental stewardship, economic opportunity, and opioid prevention.

Click here to see the recently announce AmeriCorps State grants.

What else happened…?


Chicago-based EVENTup, an online marketplace for event venues, was acquired by Gather, an Atlanta-based event management software platform for restaurants and venues. –BusinessWire


Microsoft has acquired Flipgrid, a social education app that utilizes short video clips to create collaborative lesson plans. The Minneapolis-based startup, which began life as Vidku, has had strong growth for an experience that has been alternatively described as Instagram and Snapchat for the classroom. Early last year, it reported an 800 percent year-over-year growth in teacher accounts. –TechCrunch


SixThirty, a global financial technology seed fund and business development program, announced on Tuesday the first set of investments out of their second fund, SixThirty 2.0. –SiliconPrairieNews


Ohio’s Mezu raises $10 million to let you send and receive money privately.  The company also announced The investment round was led by Pittsburgh’s Draper Triangle Ventures. JumpStart Inc., Draper Associates, the Ohio Innovation Fund, and North Coast Angel Fund also participated. The app is available to download for free on both iOS and Android. –VentureBeat


Middle Bit: Ames and Des Moines listed as one of 5 Up-and-Coming Tech Hotspots | 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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