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Middle Bit: ICR Iowa launches online career hub for Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area

ICR IOWA has launched, a new career-connected learning hub for the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids (ICR) area.

The new hub offers career pathway information and salaries, high demand career needs in the region, opportunities for internships and job shadows, and a calendar of career exploration and skill-building programs and camps ideal for 6th – 12th graders.

“A systematic approach to career connected learning can help maximize the impact on our students in the region by increasing career awareness, exploration and experience,” said Kate Moreland, Director of Career Development for ICR IOWA . “We have amazing partners throughout the region working to support students. By exposing more students to local companies, professionals, and experiences we can enrich their learning and help them build their skills of problem solving, collaboration and resilience to better prepare them for work and life. The goal of this effort is to better prepare students for the future and develop a talent pipeline with the skills our employers desire.”

The new website is a project of the ICR Future Coalition, a group of 70+ educators, employers, and non-profit professionals working together to develop the future workforce for ICR. The work of the coalition is aligned with the state’s Future Ready Iowa initiative.

What else is happening?


SwipeSum, a software company that helps merchants save money on credit-card processing, has raised $1 million from local investors led by Andrew Love and Laurence Schiffer. The investment is the first outside seed funding for SwipeSum, which moved to St. Louis this year from Los Angeles. -St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Ikove Venture Partners, a Midwest venture development company that commercializes early-stage technologies, announced on Thursday its first venture development fund, the Startup Nursery (SUN) Fund. The $10 million vehicle will be used to launch 10 to 15 early-stage technology companies through its proprietary Startup Nursery. -Silicon Prairie News


Gravy, a provider of an online shopping game platform has raised $2 million in Series III seed venture funding from Rock River Capital Partners and Magic Stone Alternative Investment. The December 7 deal positions the Madison-based company for increased growth and scale. -Silicon Prairie News

Middle Bit: ICR Iowa launches online career hub for Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area | 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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