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Middle Bit: TAI announces speakers for Iowa High School Tech Summit

The Technology Association of Iowa has announced three keynote speakers for the organization’s first Iowa High School Tech Summit, set to take place the day before the annual Iowa Technology Summit.

Keynote speakers for the summit are:

  • Eddie Etsey, Director of Sports and Information Technology at University of Iowa Athletics
  • Ben Milne, Founder and CEO of Dwolla
  • Antoinette Stevens, Senior Detection and Response Engineer at Cisco Meraki

The Iowa High School Tech Summit will take place Sept. 30 at 8:30 a.m. at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. The event is free for all high school students.

Gov. Reynolds announces new work-based learning opportunities for students and employers

Gov. Kim Reynolds, this week, announced new opportunities available through the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning, a virtual space that connects students and employers through shared projects that enable students to learn through real-world professional experiences.

“By exploring potential interests early on, students are better positioned to make informed decisions about their career path,” said Gov. Reynolds, in an announcement. “Today, we have jobs looking for people and high-quality work-based learning can connect students to exciting careers while helping employers hire the talent they need to continue growing our economy and their business.” 

The clearinghouse is part of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which is about growing a skilled workforce statewide by connecting Iowans to the education and training needed for rewarding careers.

Gov. Reynolds established the clearinghouse through an executive order last year. It is funded through a $300,000 state appropriation and is run by the Iowa Department of Education in partnership with Iowa’s area education agencies, Iowa Workforce Development, the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.  

The clearinghouse builds on other successful work-based learning options in Iowa. These efforts include the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council’s STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) program, a statewide intermediary network for work-based learning run by Iowa community colleges, and high school registered apprenticeship programs.

LightEdge networking event will discuss the state of the cloud

This year, LightEdge has started hosting a quarterly Tech Networking event at its Altoona data center campus called Tech Tuesday. The topic for this Q3 event, set for Sept. 10, is The State of the Cloud.

The event will discuss how cloud is a major adoption trend right now and will dive into the pros and cons associated with different clouds and hear from local business leaders working to strike that perfect balance.

Registration for the event is free.

Middle Bit: TAI announces speakers for Iowa High School Tech Summit | 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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