Middle Bit: Rantizo becomes first Iowa company approved to use drones for crop spraying

Iowa City-based agtech startup Rantizo last week became the first company in Iowa legally authorized to use drones for the aerial application of agrochemicals. 

The approval was the last obstacle the company needed for legal authorization, following two certifications it obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration in May.

“Our drone technology had been ready for a few months, we just needed the regulatory landscape to get sorted out,” Rantizo CEO Michael Ott said in a release. “Building the technology is the easy part.”  

Rantizo’s drones will first be used to applying fungicide in corn and spreading cover crop seeds to wet areas, Ott said in the release.

Nadilia Gomez named Executive Director of Iowa Agritech Accelerator

 The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator has announced Nadilia Gomez as the program’s next executive director.

Gomez joins The Accelerator from Corteva Agriscience — one of the Accelerator’s six investor companies — where she served as a senior research scientist in Predictive Ag and as digital pillar leader of the Disruptive Business Innovation Portfolio.

At Corteva, Gomez was responsible for tactical and strategic planning of digital solutions for breeders, agronomists and farmers.

“Nadilia has an excellent perspective on agtech, having been a mentor at The Accelerator for two years and shepherding Corteva’s digital solutions innovation for the past 18 months,” said Kerty Levy, interim executive director of The Accelerator. “Nadilia holds a PhD in applied plant sciences and has been a researcher at Corteva for the last eight years. She will be able to bring great value to the startups, helping further their innovations, connecting them with industry expertise and helping them accelerate their businesses.”

Gomez has also spent time serving on multiple industry association boards and committees, including the Technology Association of Iowa and the South Central Region Governor’s STEM Advisory Board.

Nadilia will take over as Executive Director starting Aug. 1 and will be responsible for the overall management and direction of the program. Her primary responsibilities will entail program execution and management of the startups, investors and mentors, in addition to managing connections with ecosystem partners and industry groups.

ISU and UI set records for external research funding

Iowa State University and the University of Iowa both received a record-high amount of external funding for research this past fiscal year, according to data released earlier this week by the two schools. 

Iowa State University brought in $260.9 million of external funding for research in its 2019 fiscal year 2019, a 6.2% jump over the previous year’s $245.8 million. The previous record for research funding was $252.5 million in 2016. 

External research funding supported more than 1,300 research projects during fiscal year 2019, including projects to study structural biology at the molecular level, develop a nanovaccine for the flu, identify catalysts that lead to biorenewable chemicals and build a data system that helps inform policy about the care and education of young children.

The University of Iowa attracted a record setting $588.8 million in external funding, including $467 million for research and scholarship.

Two of the major projects the research funding will go towards include: health and medical research that seeks to benefit military personnel and research on developing a new fertilizer that is expected to improve the harvest yields of corn and soybeans.

The recently-announced $115 million NASA award to Iowa physicist Craig Kletzing, which is the largest externally-funded research project in UI history, is not included in the 2019 numbers.

Previous coverage

Iowa AgriTech Accelerator announces five startups for 2019 cohort -May 14, 2019

Rantizo wins $20,000 at AgTech Innovation Competition -Feb. 1, 2019

Rantizo is bringing drone technology to the ag industry –-Oct. 15, 2018