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Middle Bit: Assistive Technology Lab to open at Iowa State for students with disabilities

Starting this fall, Iowa State University students with disabilities will have a laboratory where they can gather to use assistive learning technologies.

Iowa State University’s Computation Advisory Committee (CAC) approved $24,264 in May to create a lab that will provide the technology needed for students with disabilities, which will include speech-to-text and text-to-speech tools, a Braille display, a screen magnifier and screen reader.

The new assistive technology lab will be located in an approximately 200 square foot space on the first floor of Durham Center, previously used as a collaborative student work space.

The project wall start this summer is expected to be completed in the fall.

What else is happening?

Three cities in Iowa listed among top places to work in tech

Yahoo Finance recently released their list of the top cities to work in tech in 2019 and three cities in Iowa — Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Des Moines — made the list.

To find this year’s best cities for tech workers, Yahoo examined data from 172 cities and compared them across five different metrics: average salary, average cost of living, tech employment concentration, unemployment rate and ratio of average pay to tech pay.

All three of the Iowa-based cities cracked the top ten. Cedar Rapids ranked fourth, Davenport fifth and Des Moines sixth.

Automed announces joint project with

automed recently announced a collaboration with Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Swine Medicine Education Center.

Through the program, automed will be working closely with intern Gabi Wilson to implement research in the swine industry and how automed can benefit swine producers. Wilson is a student at Iowa State University working towards her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. 

“This research will provide further insights into the benefits that automed has within the swine industry, as well as valuable feedback to help automed to continue to improve,” said Kathleen Gilman, automed CXO who is overseeing this project and working closely with the intern this summer.

Middle Bit: Assistive Technology Lab to open at Iowa State for students with disabilities | 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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