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IEDA awards funding to five Iowa startups

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board today approved innovation funding for five Iowa startups. In total, the IEDA awarded $575,000 in funding.

Here are the five startups that received funding:

Continuum Ag (Washington)

Continuum Ag uses soil testing technologies to tailor recommendations for building soil health and regenerative agricultural practices. The company will use the money to continue software development to enhance usability and usefulness, and will expand its soil database through farm consultants in Continuum’s Top Soil network, a nationwide association of soil health focused agronomists.

The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for proof of concept work, product refinement, market planning and entry activities and key personnel.

Kimle Aquaculture (Ames)

Kimle Aquaculture is building a full-scale research and development demonstration production facility in Iowa that utilizes an algae-based recirculating aquaculture system. This facility will assist in both the deployment and commercialization of their full-scale integration model and the securing of purchase agreements for both shrimp and algae.

Kimle was awarded a $100,000 loan from the Demonstration Fund for marketing and equipment. 

Original Appearance Manufacturing (Ames)

Original Appearance Manufacturing (OAM) designs and manufactures Quick Covers, precision-molded plastic covers that fit snugly over rust-prone areas of automobiles. Demand has outpaced the current manufacturing facility and OAM plans to outsource manufacturing to an Iowa manufacturer.

The company was awarded a $100,000 loan from the Demonstration Fund.

JBI Distributors (Red Oak)

JBI Distributors services the poultry industry in the areas of biosecurity, animal welfare and innovation. The company has created applicators that better apply disinfectants in barns and facilities to cut down on issues associated with bacteria and virus outbreaks, such as salmonella.

JBI was awarded a $100,000 loan from the Demonstration Fund, primarily for key personnel and equipment.

GKAT Reclamation (Des Moines)

GKAT Reclamation in Des Moines offers an environmentally sound reclamation solution when compared to current electronics waste disposal practices. The company has developed a patent pending, non-thermal, closed loop reclamation process for electronics recycling.

GKAT was awarded a $250,000 Propel loan from the Iowa Innovation Acceleration Fund for key personnel and facility acquisition.

IEDA awards funding to five Iowa startups | 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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