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Middle Bit: Registration now open for HackISU

Registration is now open for HackISU, the largest hackathon in the state of Iowa.

During the event, hundreds of college students from across the U.S. pack into the Iowa State University Research Park to build and code projects. Students will break up into teams of up to four and spend 36 straight hours from Friday night to Sunday morning inventing devices and software, or creating new applications. After 36 hours of developing, a group of judges will walk around and observe the inventions in action and award prizes for best hardware and software, along with awards from sponsors.

Winning projects from previous HackISU’s have included a belt for blind people that uses sensors to find obstacles and warns the wearer and a machine-learning program identifying what illness a patient might have based on the specific set of symptoms they display.

Des Moines listed as second best city to work in tech in 2018

Des Moines has been listed as the second best city to work in tech in 2018 according to Smart Asset.

The study looked at data from 190 cities and compared them across metrics like average salary, average cost of living, tech employment concentration, unemployment rate and ratio of average pay-to-tech pay.

“For tech workers looking for stable, secure job opportunities, Des Moines, Iowa is a fantastic city,” read the article. “More than 4% of workers in Des Moines work in tech. Another plus for tech workers is the low unemployment rate. Holder’s of bachelor’s degrees have an unemployment rate of 2.3% here, according to Census Bureau estimates. Perhaps the only major concern for tech workers here is that their pay is not that high compared to the metro-wide average. The average tech worker makes only 64% more than the average worker, an average score.”

This is SmartAsset’s fourth annual study of the best cities to work in tech. Des Moines has made it in the top 10 in three out of the fours studies.

What else is happening?


Get Loud Now, which just launched in June, makes an online platform where anyone in the U.S. can pick a postcard, write a message on it and mail it to any elected official, all the way from officials in the President’s cabinet to the local alderman in your city. –American Inno


Global Entrepreneurship Week will return to Kansas City this fall with a 5-day lineup of inspiring events and speakers aimed toward helping area entrepreneurs connect to the city’s ecosystem. –Silicon Prairie News

KC STEM Alliance is a collaborative network of educators, business partners and organizations that inspires interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers to generate a robust workforce of related professionals for the community. –Silicon Prairie News

South Carolina

South Carolina’s Citibot is building a chatbot for local governments. Citibot allows citizens to connect with their local city or county government, report issues, and ask questions in a conversational manner. –VentureBeat


Middle Bit: Registration now open for HackISU | 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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