Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Middle Bit: Insurtech leaders will gather in Des Moines next month for InsurTech Week

Insurance and technology leaders will gather in Des Moines next month week for the Global Insurance Accelerator’s (GIA) fifth annual InsurTech Week.

Set to take place Oct. 15-18, the annual the week will provide a venue for those in the insurance industry to address and discuss issues impacting the insurance industry with a focus on technology, policy and innovation.

Educational sessions led by GIA mentors for the featured insurtech teams will place the first day of the event.

Wednesday will start with networking where participants can meet with the featured insurtech companies and mentors. Then, at 2 pm, fifteen featured insurtech companies will share exciting overviews about each of their companies either through a presentation or interview on stage at Mainframe Studios.

InsurTech Week events are free and open to the public. Click here to see the full schedule.

EMBARC awarded Google People’s Choice Award, receives additional $125,000

Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center (EMBARC) received a $125,000 grant from Google on Tuesday morning, bringing its total earnings over the last two weeks to $300,000.

The Des Moines nonprofit , which already received $175,000 on Aug. 23 as part of’s Impact Challenge Iowa, was named the “People’s Choice” winner after getting more votes from the public than the four other nonprofits to win the award.

EMBARC won for its RefugeRISE program, which trains members of refugee communities to become work-readiness coaches. In turn, these coaches help other refugees find education jobs and social services.  

Iowa physicists win $3.5 million NASA grant

Researchers at the University of Iowa have won a $3.5 million grant from NASA to study electrical currents between the Earth’s magnetosphere and an active, upper layer of its atmosphere that can yield auroras.

The scientists will send two sounding rockets at the same time into different altitudes in the Earth’s ionosphere. The sounding rockets will study the near-Earth environment that is too high for scientific balloons and too low for satellites. Cheaper and faster to develop than large satellite missions, sounding rockets often carry the latest scientific instruments on their flights, allowing for unmatched speed in the turnaround from design to implementation.

Scott Bounds, associate research scientist in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is the principal investigator on the ACES II project.

The mission is called the Aurora Current and Electrodynamics Structure (ACES) II Sounding Rocket Experiment. The team expects to launch the twin rockets in November or December of 2021 from a space facility in Norway.

Middle Bit: Insurtech leaders will gather in Des Moines next month for InsurTech Week | 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
This Pop-up Is Included in the Theme
Best Choice for Creatives
Purchase Now