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Bridging the gap between medical advances and clinical practices

Research and innovation in genomic medicine are surging. However, the adoption of new research into clinical practice has been comparatively slow. A new Des Moines-based company is looking to change that.

Since opening his own medical consulting firm in 2004, Jake Velie has worked with physician groups, insurance carriers and large companies from around the world.

“Most of my consulting was in the value-based medical world where health systems and practices are trying to figure out new ways and workflows to improve patient outcomes without any additional tools like medicines and surgeries.” Velie said. “And I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was actually the very forefront of what was going on in medicine.”

In 2013, Velie began to shift his focus from working with directly with patients and physicians on the ground to working with larger populations. He began working with large self-funded groups from all over the country and develop clinical strategies and risk management for them.

“Once I got into that, I immediately started to run into really innovative clinical services and products providers, companies that were doing some really amazing things,” Velie said. “There was such a divide between the technology that was available on the genetic side and actual application. People weren’t getting these tools that are readily available.”

So in 2017, Velie spun a new company, Rx-Precision, out of his consulting  firm. Rx-Precision is a risk case management firm focused on providing clients solutions for integration of pharmacogenomics and precision medicine to reduce risk and lower costs in high genomic-risk populations.

The company recently completed beta testing and now is preparing to launch several different pilot initiatives through commercial insurers and self-funded employers in 2019. 

“Most health insurance companies don’t pay for genomic testing and most physicians don’t use genomic testing in practice,” Velie said. “Not because there’s not enough science behind it, but because physicians haven’t been trained in it.”

Velie says he expects the company to be working on pilots for the next two years.

Bridging the gap between medical advances and clinical practices | 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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