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Middle Bit: FarrPro wins National Hog Farmer Producer’s Choice award

FarrPro, an Iowa City-based ag tech startup, has won the 2019 National Hog Farmer New Product Tour “Producer’s Choice” Award with their Haven product.

The Producer’s Choice Award goes to the product receiving the most votes cast online by readers of National Hog Farmer (NHF) magazine and website. The Haven was also selected by a panel of pork industry experts as an overall finalist in the NHF New Product Tour based on the panels assessment of how effective the product would be in helping producers save money and improve efficiency.

“It’s an incredible honor to be chosen by the readership of National Hog Farmer for the Producer’s Choice Award,” said Amos Petersen, CEO & co-founder of FarrPro. “For us it is a validation of the philosophy that has driven development of this product from day one: listen closely to what producers want and find a way to give it to them.  We hope that the Haven is the first of many FarrPro products that will drive value to producers by solving old problems in new ways.”

The FarrPro Haven consists of an elongated parabolic reflector and a heat element that emits long-wave infrared energy creating a microclimate for the piglets, keeping them warm while in the farrowing pen.

AgCertain Industries Acquires KemX Global in Boone

Ames-based Ag Certain Industries announced last week that it has acquired KemX Global, a certified glycerin and vegetable oil refining company located in Boone.

AgCertain Industries plans to heavily invest in the acquired facility to increase its team, improve logistics capabilities, expand market reach, and broaden its product and service portfolio.

“Our first major investment is focused on glycerin and vegetable oils, both building block molecules that support a broad array of food, agricultural and bio-based outcomes,” said Daniel J. Oh, CEO and founder of AgCertain, in an announcement. “As part of the Cultivation Corridor, central Iowa is an ideal place to build and grow AgCertain due to available talent, a growing complex of production expertise, intellectual property, commercial experience, and an ever-evolving agricultural base.”

CYstarters Demo Day

Fifteen student-led startup companies will pitch their businesses on Thursday, August 1 during the 2019 Demo Day for CYstarters, at Iowa State University.

 Each of the startups participating in the 10-week summer accelerator will be presenting and we will be celebrating the end of the program. 

This is the fourth cohort for the CYstarters program; Demo day will start at 10 a.m. at the ISU Economic Development Core Facility. 

The event is free and open to the public.

Middle Bit: FarrPro wins National Hog Farmer Producer’s Choice award | 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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