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Investing in Iowa: Q4 2018

$105 million: That’s how much venture capital was raised by 31 different companies across Iowa in 2018, according to our findings.

In Q4, Iowa-based companies raised $14,513,000. That combined with the investments from Q1-Q3 brings the total amount raised in 2018 to $105,351,666 million. Here is a list of Iowa companies that raised investment money in Q4 of 2018.

Q4 2018

CompaniesLocationAmount RaisedDate
InvoltaCedar Rapids$5,200,00012-18-18
iotaMotionIowa City$2,100,00011-05-18
Kingland CompaniesAmes$752,00012-27-18
Performance Livestock AnalyticsAmes$2,250,00011-08-18
RantizoIowa City$500,00010-23-18
ShowpalDes Moines$1,600,00012-13-18
SwineTechCedar Rapids$1,500,00010-17-18

Key takeaways

Investments are coming from within the state

Much of the capital raised in 2018 came from investors within the state.

Next Level Ventures invested in several of the companies that raised capital in 2018 including Dwolla, Igor, LenderClose, BirdDogHR and Pitchly. Next Level recently started their second fund. By the end of their second fund, the firm plans to have invested in 20 Iowa-based companies with combined sales of at least $120 million.

Ag Startup Engine is another fund that invests in Iowa-based companies. Located in Ames, Ag Startup Engine invests smaller amounts-typically between $25,000 and $50,000 in early stage agtech companies. To date, Ag Startup Engine has invested in seven different ag startups located in Iowa.

Investment rounds are growing in size

17 of the 31 companies that raised capital in 2018 had rounds of over $1 million. While we do not have a detailed list of investment rounds from previous years, it appears that the average amount raised per round is increasing, with deals over $1 million making up more than 50 percent of investment rounds in 2018.

Lots of agtech and medical companies

Unsurprisingly, agtech companies made up a large chunk of the companies that raised capital in 2018. The majority of agtech companies that raised capital are located in central Iowa, with a large amount of those being in Ames. Several agtech companies raised rounds of over $1 million capital including Smart Ag, Tractor Zoom, Swinetech and Performance Livestock Analytics.

In Iowa City, the majority of the companies that raised investments were in the healthcare industry. IDx, an AI-based diagnostic system for the autonomous detection of diabetic retinopathy, raised a $33 million Series A round in September. This was the largest investment round of 2018.

This list was made from a combination of SEC filings, Crunchbase and previous Clay & Milk stories from throughout the year. If you are aware of investments we may have missed, please post them in the comments or send us an email and we will be sure to add them.

Going forward, we plan to compose a similar list of investments for every quarter to build a credible track record of capital raised throughout Iowa. Over time, we will add analysis to these posts, comparing past time periods and noting trends as they appear.

Investing in Iowa: Q4 2018 | 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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