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Middle Bit: Science Center gets $40,000 grant for Innovation Lab programming

The Science Center of Iowa (SCI) has received a $40,676 Community Betterment Grant from Prairie Meadows to fund ongoing programming in its new Innovation Lab.

“The Innovation Lab is something our community has needed for several years,” said Curt Simmons, SCI president and CEO, in a statement. “The combination of 21st Century technology and interactive learning experiences is sure to inspire the lifelong learner in everyone. We’re extremely grateful for the support of Prairie Meadows in bringing this new project to life.”

The Innovation Lab will be home to a variety of experiences including workshops on new tools and technologies and teacher professional development.

Iowa’s second 10,000 Small Businesses cohort graduates from program

36 business leaders from across the state have completed Iowa’s second cohort of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

The three-month long program, which began in April, covered a wide range of topics including identifying growth opportunities, refining operations processes, using financial statements, marketing and selling. Those accepted into the program went through over 100 hours of curriculum, in a blend of online and in-person learning.

10,000 Small Businesses first came to Iowa in January is provided at no cost and offered in partnership with DMACC and Iowa’s other community colleges.

CYstarters Demo Day set for Aug. 1

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.

Anders Sorman-Nilsonn to keynote Iowa Technology Summit

Global futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson will speak at the Iowa Technology Summit Oct. 1 in downtown Des Moines.

Sorman-Nilsson is a Swedish-Australian futurist and has shared the stage with Hillary Clinton, Nobel Laureates, and European and Australian heads of state. He is an active member of TEDGlobal, has keynoted at TEDx in the United States and Australia, was nominated to the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders in 2015, and was the keynote speaker at the G20’s Y20 Summit in Australia

The Iowa Technology Summit will run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 and will feature 20 interactive sessions in five education tracks.

Previous coverage

‘10,000 Small Businesses’ is coming to Iowa -Oct. 10, 2018

TAI announces inaugural Iowa High School Technology Summit -June 20, 2018

CYstarters announces 15 student entrepreneurs for 2019 cohort -May 6, 2019

Geoff Wood, Publisher of Clay & Milk, was one of the 36 graduates of the 10’000 Small Business program.

Middle Bit: Science Center gets $40,000 grant for Innovation Lab programming | 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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