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Middle Bit: Parametric Studio awarded $200,000 SBIR grant

Parametric Studio, Inc. has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research program Phase I grant for $200,000.

The grant will allow Parametric Studio to commercialize its Augmented Reality software for PreK-2 students. Parametric Studio’s research and development work will focus on AR-enabled, computer science-focused STEM games, software, kits and curriculum.

The project goal is to develop NEWTON, an engineering puzzle-based AR sandbox, designed to support PreK-2 STEM learning concepts.

Christopher Whitmer, founder and CTO of Parametric Studio, says NEWTON combines core engineering and computer science concepts with essential PreK-2nd grade curricular mathematics and science standards.

“Engineering and CS are critical skills for the 21st century and early exposure to these topics is critical for students’ future success,” Whitmer said, in an announcement. “NEWTON allows students to engage with a shared AR sandbox to design Rube Goldberg contraptions using age-appropriate engineering and programming tools that can reinforce engineering, CS, math, and science concepts to solve puzzles in AR.”

Whitmer says with the advances in new science standards and computer science education initiatives, even PreK-2 level students must learn engineering, programming and more STEM.

Brad Dwyer named Pioneer for Roboflow.AI

Local entrepreneur Brad Dwyer was named one of seven Pioneers in the organization’s most recent round of winners.

Pioneer is a contest for creative people around the world making their ideas become real. Winners get $7000, a round-trip ticket to Silicon Valley, access to world-class mentorship and more.

Dwyer won for his work on Roboflow.AI, an API for augmented reality. Roboflow grew out of Dwyer’s award-winning Sudoku solver.

Pioneer launched just over a year ago and has now funded 65 creators from 20 different countries Dwyer is the only winner from the U.S. this round to be named a Pioneer.

Agtech Demo Day set for Oct. 15

The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator will hold its third annual Demo Day for the 2019 Cohort on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

The Des Moines based accelerator is a 90-day mentor led program focused on agtech innovation.

Doors will open at 5 pm and the program will begin at 5:30 with remarks from the accelerator’s Executive Director, Nadilia Gomez, followed by keynote presentations from the five startups in the 2019 cohort about their innovations in agtech.

Middle Bit: Parametric Studio awarded $200,000 SBIR grant | 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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