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Vertex Software receives state funding to bring jobs to Ames, plans to launch product Q2 2019

The Iowa Economic Development Authority has awarded Vertex Software $1.5 million in forgivable and zero-interest loans and $1.9 million in tax refunds and credits.

In return, Vertex will invest $32 million into Ames, promising to create 300 jobs, all of which will pay at least $26.11 per hour.

Since forming in September 2017, Vertex has quickly grown and is now up 70 employees.

“We’re gonna be doubling in 2019 and expect have between 130 and 150 employees at the beginning of next year,” said Dan Murray, CEO and founder of Vertex Software. “Then, looking ahead to 2020, we’ll likely be doubling again. As you grow and as the market starts to pick up, you have to scale fast.”

Vertex Software’s product, a cloud-based software platform that will allow manufacturers to collaborate throughout the extended enterprise, is expected to launch in Q2 of this year, Murray told Clay & Milk. The product will enable users to securely share 3D product data to any computing device.

“We’re stealth right now and just weeks away from our product launch,” Murray said. “I can tell you our marketing team would not be very happy with me if I told you a lot about what we’re doing.”

Vertex also plans to build and lease a 60,000-square-foot building in Iowa State University’s Research Park. The new facility would carry an estimated value of $20 million.

As far as deciding to base in Vertex in Ames goes, Murray says it was an obvious choice.

“I’ve traveled the world and there’s just a really unique talent in Iowa,” Murray said. “People here have really high intelligence, intense work ethic and intense loyalty. You couple that with the educational system in the state and the community we have here. I can’t really think of any place I’d rather build a business.”

Vertex Software receives state funding to bring jobs to Ames, plans to launch product Q2 2019 | 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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