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Middle Bit: Angel Capital Association Conference coming to Des Moines

This year’s Midwest Angel Capital Association (ACA) Conference will take place in Des Moines.

The ACA conference is a forum for Midwest angel and seed investors hosted by Plains Angels that brings early-stage deals from the Midwest onto one stage and allows accredited investors an opportunity to invest.

10 startup leaders from across the Midwest will pitch with hopes of earning investment from the conference’s main fund, the Best of the Midwest DSM LLC. Funds raised through the Best of the Midwest DSM will be pooled for equal investment in the startups that event judges approve to receive investment.

The conference will be held Sept. 19-20 at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown. Registration is open to both ACA members and nonmembers. Organizers expect to see 150 angel investors or representatives at the conference.nut

What else is happening?


Agrible, an Illinois startup that uses predictive analytics and data science to help farmers make smarter decisions about their crops, is being acquired by agriculture company Nutrien for $63 million. –Chicago Business Journal


Cisco is buying Ann Arbor-based Duo Security for $2.35 billion in cash and assumed equity awards. Duo Security was valued at about $1.17 billion as of its last funding round. The company is best known for the two-factor authentication app it created for enterprise companies, and it counts Etsy, Yelp, and Facebook among its more than 12,000 customers. –Venture Beat


GlobalHack, a St. Louis-based nonprofit focused on driving social impact through technology, will return this fall for GlobalHack VII with a theme focused on immigration and innovation. The hackathon will take place at Chaifetz Arena on the campus of Saint Louis University from Friday, October 12 to Sunday, October 14. –Silicon Prairie News


MultiMechanics, an Omaha-based developer of composite modeling and simulation software, has announced a strategic technology partnership with Fortify, a Boston-based additive manufacturing company specialized in composite material systems. –Silicon Prairie News

Middle Bit: Angel Capital Association Conference coming to Des Moines | 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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