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IEDA awards funding to four startups

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board has approved innovation funding for four startups located in Ames, Davenport, Prole and Coralville.

In total, the IEDA awarded $800,000 in funding. Here are the four startups that received funding:

KinoSol (Ames)

KinoSol has developed a solar-powered food dehydrator with Mylar food storage bags designed for farmers in developing countries to dehydrate fruits, vegetables, grains and insects using solar energy. KinoSol plans to improve the functionality of the dehydrator and continue market research to identify the best sales strategy.

The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) loan for product refinement, market planning and key personnel. 

TuitionFit (Davenport)

TuitionFit is an online platform that allows the public to share college financial aid offers and create a transparent catalog of prices offered to students organized by different economic and academic profiles. With this information, students and families seeking a college option that they can afford are now able to shop and compare by actual price.

The company was awarded a $25,000 POCR loan for market planning and market entry. 

Ag Manufacturing & Technology (Prole)

Ag Manufacturing & Technology is an agtech company that develops, manufactures, sells and services aftermarket ag machinery equipment that eliminates overseeding on all types of agriculture terrain. The patented motorized manifold hardware is controlled and monitored by custom software through an integrated touchscreen display in the tractor cab.

The company was awarded a $250,000 Propel loan from the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund for additional manufacturing capacity, market expansion activities and hiring key personnel. 

VIDA Diagnostics (Coralville)

VIDA Diagnostics is a provider of patented, clinically validated pulmonary imaging diagnostics software that uses big data and imaging analytics to help fight lung disease and improve the quality of pulmonary care, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and asthma. VIDA’s LungPrint is an artificial intelligence-powered advanced imaging analysis for patients with, or at risk for, pulmonary diseases.

The company was awarded a $500,000 Expansion loan from the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund for hiring key personnel, market planning and product refinement. 

Previous coverage

IEDA provides $350,000 in funding to five startups -Aril 2, 2019

Iowa State grads are using the sun to cut global food waste -July 13, 2017

IEDA awards funding to four startups | 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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