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Middle Bit: Ideal Energy receives $200K grant for solar research

Ideal Energy, a Fairfield-based solar energy company has received a $200,000 grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) for two projects that will study storing energy in batteries.

The grant from IEDA will be used to study the performance of the first large-scale solar-plus-battery storage installations in the state. The two installations, located in Fairfield at Agri-Industrial Plastics Company and Maharishi University of Management, are Iowa’s largest solar plus storage projects.

Ideal Energy is partnering with Iowa State University’s Electric Power Research Center on the project. Ideal Energy will gather information about how the systems work and share it with a team of researchers at Iowa State University who will then analyze it.

What else is happening?


Attune Medical said today it closed a $15.5 million oversubscribed Series C round of financing. Funds from the round are slated to support expansion and progression of the company’s temperature management technology, including its flagship EnsoETM esophageal cooling device. –Mass Device


Capita3, a Minneapolis-based venture capital firm led by serial investors and entrepreneurs Sara Russick and Pam York, has closed on $1.2 million for its first fund, which will back women-led health startups. Capita3 will provide seed-stage funding for seven to 10 women-led companies in the Midwest over the next two years, the firm told Minne Inno. Capita3 aims to back startups in innovative health sectors such as genomics, digital health, women’s health and food-as-medicine. –Minneapolis Business Journal


Whiteboard Technologies recently announced that it has completed a raise of $2.5 million, led by i2e, an Oklahoma based venture entity. Whiteboard Technologies, creator of Whiteboard Mortgage CRM, provides customer relationship management (CRM) software for mortgage professionals – with a focus on keeping everyone in the loop during the mortgage underwriting process. –Silicon Prairie News


Satellite imagery and machine learning software company Agrograph closed a $500,000 seed funding with the Idea Fund of La Crosse. The company is a graduate of the Wisconsin-based startup accelerator called Gener8tor, which is how it met its new funders, CEO and co-founder Mutlu Ozdogan recently told AgFunderNews. –AgFunder News

Middle Bit: Ideal Energy receives $200K grant for solar research | 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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