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Parametric Studio receives $738,000 grant

Parametric Studio Inc., an Ames-based edtech company, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant for $738,000 which will allow them to commercialize their technology.

The company, founded in 2016, has developed project-based STEM games, software, kits and curricula for middle and high school students that can be integrated into classrooms and other group activities. In doing this, Parametric Studio hopes to improve student STEM outcomes, and interest more students in STEM careers in their formative years.

“STEM education, skills, and careers are absolutely critical to the future of our economy, our country, and our world. Everyone will need some level understanding and proficiency in STEM,” said Dr. Christopher Whitmer, CTO of Parametric Studio. “The good thing is every child is a natural scientist, mathematician, or engineer waiting to be unleashed to solve problems.  Everyone is a problem solver so engineering really should be for everyone.  All that’s needed are new solutions, frameworks, and quality tools that engage, motivate, and educate all kinds of kids and do so in a way that collaborative, hands-on, and not difficult for teachers to implement.”

The software being developed, called EDISON, consists of a collaborative game environment where students work together in teams to formulate problems, design solutions, apply math and science concepts to model behavior, simulate and improve their designs, and finally, export their team designs for real-world creation either on 3-D printer, or by several other means. EDISON is designed to foster student engagement and inquiry in STEM in middle school, by leveraging gamification, team collaboration, and 3D printing, and augmented reality.

The company has three different tiers of products for students at different grade levels.

“We’re adding a few things at each level and we’re going to cross-pollinate them as well,”  Whitmer said.

This is the second grant Parametric Studio has been awarded, having received a $900,000 grant from the US Department of Education in May 2017.

Parametric Studio is currently looking for partner schools and districts across the country interested in testing and evaluating their software for implementation in their Math and Science curricula.

Parametric Studio receives $738,000 grant | 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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