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Corteva partners with Accenture to provide scholarships in rural Iowa

Corteva Agriscience announced yesterday plans to fund 25 scholarships for students in Des Moines Area Community College’s (DMACC) Computer Languages program.

Starting in fall 2019, the Rural Forge Scholarships will provide selected students with $7,500 each.

The announced scholarships are part of Accenture’s pilot program designed to train students and educators in rural Jefferson in tech skills in attempt to keep talent in rural areas. Upon graduating from DMACC, select graduates will then take part in a four-month commercial software development training program through Accenture.

“We are proud to provide 25 rural scholarships to Des Moines Area Community College and fund training for local teachers in the types of critical thinking skills and software development programs that will be necessary for today’s youth to drive the future of sustainable agriculture,” said Jim Alcombright, IT Digital and Platforms Lead at Corteva. “We’re looking forward to teaming with Accenture and expect the students who participate in the company’s technology training program to one day contribute new valuable digital tools that better the agriculture industry.”

The pilot program was initiated by Pillar Technology, which was acquired by Accenture in August 2018.

Students can apply for the Rural Forge Scholarship beginning July 1.

Previous coverage

Pillar Technology connects with Silicon Valley leaders to bring tech jobs to Jefferson -Dec. 10, 2018

Pillar Technology acquired by Accenture Industry X.0 -Aug. 20, 2018

Corteva partners with Accenture to provide scholarships in rural Iowa | 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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