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Middle Bit: Nominations now open for Prometheus Awards

The nomination period is now open for the 2019 Prometheus Awards, hosted by the Technology Association of Iowa.

This year features several new award categories: Fintech & InsurTech Company of the Year, Creative Technology Solution of the Year, Best Technology Company Culture and Emerging Leader of the Year.

The “Best Technology Company Culture” award recognizes a technology company that has created a workplace culture that inspires employees to succeed and drives the organization’s growth through leadership development, talent recruitment and retention, and the cultivation of inclusive environments and hiring practices.

The “Emerging Leader of the Year” award celebrates an individual not yet at the executive or VP level within an organization, who has made a significant impact and demonstrates outstanding, continuous achievement. The individual represents the next generation of technology leaders who have made and will continue to make an impact on Iowa’s technology community.

“Since its debut 14 years ago, The Prometheus Awards has become the technology industry’s most prized honors,” said Brian Waller, President of TAI. “The only statewide awards ceremony to exclusively recognize Iowa technologists, these awards focus on the past year’s amazing achievements by technology organizations and their leadership. The awards are fundamental to the spirit and unity of Iowa’s technology community.”

The nomination period is open through Friday, February 1, 2019. Award winners will be announced at The Prometheus Awards dinner on Thursday, April 11, 2019, at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Downtown Des Moines.

Click here to submit a nomination or for more information.

What else is happening?


Sezzle, a startup that makes it easier for consumers to pay for online purchases in installments closed on $100 million in financing. The Minneapolis-based company landed the capital from Stamford, Conn.-based investment firm Bastion, which provides debt capital to finance companies. Sezzle said that it would put the capital toward expansion efforts. -Minneapolis Business Journal


Six aspiring startup companies pitched their products to potential investors on Thursday at the sixth NMotion Demo Day at the Rococo Theatre. The event was put on by NMotion, a Nebraska-based startup accelerator that specializes in helping fledgling businesses get off the ground. -Lincoln Journal Star


University of Wisconsin-Madison spinout Fetch Rewards, Inc. has raised $8 million in venture funding from undisclosed investors on November 29, 2018. The company plans to use the money for general corporate purposes. The company previously raised $9.56 million in August 2017, and $8.5 million in May 2015. –Silicon Prairie News

Middle Bit: Nominations now open for Prometheus Awards | 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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