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Middle Bit: TAI and IowaBio hosting two forums this fall with Iowa gubernatorial candidates.

The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) and IowaBio will host two forums this fall with Iowa’s Democrat and Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The candidates will participate on separate dates this – one with Fred Hubbell on Sept. 21, and one with Gov. Kim Reynolds on Oct. 3 – in Cedar Rapids from 10 to 11 a.m., both at the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. During each Forum, the candidates will answer questions from a panel of five experts: three from bioscience and two from technology.

The forum will allow leaders in bioscience and technology to discuss ideas for future industry policy with the gubernatorial candidates, prior to the general election in November.

The panelists who will be at the forums are:

  • Erin Rollenhagen, Founder of Entrepreneurial Technologies and 2018 TAI Board Chair
  • Laura Smith, CIO at UnityPoint Health
  • Ryan Schaap, CIO at Wells Enterprises and 2019 TAI Board Chair
  • Abby Parta, Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Boston, Massachusetts; Chair of IowaBio
  • Dr. Wendy Srnic, Global Leader, Integrated Field Sciences at Corteva, Johnston, (Sept. 21st forum)
  • Dr. Keri Carstens, Senior Manager, of Integrated Product Research & Stewardship, DuPont Pioneer’s Seed Treatment Enterprise, Johnston, Iowa (Oct. 3rd forum)

Both forums will last approximately one hour and be moderated by TAI’s Brian Waller on September 21st and Iowa Bio’s Joe Hrdlicka on October 3rd.

What else is happening?


Quantum Metric, an enterprise SaaS startup that helps companies calculate how much revenue is lost from bad website design, today announced a $25 million round of venture capital financing, led by Insight Venture Partners. – Venture Beat


Fishers-based Emplify has closed on a $7.5 million infusion. The company, which focuses on employee engagement management software, says the funds will help boost market adoption of its new Emplify Partner Program diagnostics and analytics software. –Inside Indiana Business


Inspectorio raised $10 million of Series A venture funding in July 2018.  The deal, led by Techstars, with Target, Ecolab and Matchstick Ventures participating, paves the way for continued platform building for the company. –Silicon Prairie News


Middle Bit: TAI and IowaBio hosting two forums this fall with Iowa gubernatorial candidates. | 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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