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NewBoCo announces big plans at inaugural Annual Meeting

It was a big day for NewBoCo yesterday as the Cedar Rapids nonprofit held its first ever Annual Meeting.

NewBoCo made several big announcements, including a $30 million multi-stage venture capital fund and an edtech-specific accelerator program.

NewBoCo also unveiled its new outcomes dashboard, which it will update in real-time with its latest impact stats that align with its six strategic goals:

  • Develop leaders at the forefront of innovation 
  • Develop talent to build innovative products 
  • Grow new companies 
  • Invest in entrepreneurs and high-growth companies 
  • Lead the nation in Computer Science education 
  • Be a national leader in innovative K-12 education

Here are some of the highlights from yesterday’s meeting:

$30 million ISA Ventures Fund

Engelmann and Steve Gray introduced ISA Ventures Fund (ISAV), a $30 million multi-stage fund focused on bringing capital for early-stage startups, fast-growing companies, and expansion-stage companies to Eastern Iowa.

The Fund will be the key part of a “venture studio” which provides a wide array of resources in addition to capital, including technology, sales and marketing support to selected startups. 

The Fund will invest in about 125 companies from 2020-2024, across a variety of industry sectors; companies will range from early stage startups to mature, expanding companies.

All companies that receive investment from ISAV will be required to maintain principal operations in the state of Iowa.

The full-time staff will be advised by a small group of advisors, including Steve Gray of Gray Venture Partners and Cammie Greif, co-founder of TaxAct and mentor-in-residence at Iowa Startup Accelerator from 2014-2019. Two additional advisors will be selected by the end of 2019.

Iowa EdTech Accelerator

NewBoCo announced the expansion of its Iowa Startup Accelerator to Iowa City by establishing an edtech-specific accelerator program. The new accelerator program—called Iowa EdTech Accelerator—is a collaboration between regional business resources and education industry leaders, including the Iowa City Area Development Group, The University of Iowa, Higher Learning Technologies, ACT, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The program is modeled on the current Iowa Startup Accelerator, but focuses only on educational technology, and provides mentoring, coaching, prototyping support and more.

The program will begin accepting applications this fall and will run in early 2020 in Iowa City. 

Expansion of DeltaV Code School and Intrapreneur Academy

DeltaV Code School

DeltaV Code School announced a new Code 201 nights and weekends course in 2020, making it easier for non-traditional students to continue working while taking their first coding course. 

DeltaV also announced plans to launch a Digital Marketing Developer curriculum in 2020, providing a second career path option for students – one that is also in high demand in local startup companies.

Intrapreneur Academy

NewBoCo announced that it will launch four Intrapreneur Academy cohorts in 2020, one each quarter, due to high demand for the team training program.

To date, NewBoCo’s Intrapreneur Academy has trained 71 leaders from 14 organizations.

Offering Computer Science at 100% of Iowa schools

NewBoCo announced its intention to train Iowa’s teachers until 100 percent of Iowa’s schools offer Computer Science. Today, that number is 45 percent, up from 40 percent when NewBoCo’s initiative began two years ago. 

NewBoCo’s Computer Science teacher training program has trained 364 educators who have reached 18,071 K-12 students in Iowa according to their dashboard. 

Expanded partnership with Iowa BIG

NewBoCo announced its expanded partnership with Iowa BIG, which will include growing its AgileEDU training program for teachers. The nonprofit’s goal is to have trained 1,000 educators and administrators in AgileEDU by 2024.

NewBoCo will use the newly announced EdTech Accelerator as a way to test new products and services.

EntreFEST 2020 set for June 4-5

Jill Wilkins, NewBoCo’s Events Director, announced that EntreFEST, a two-day conference for Iowa’s entrepreneurs, investors, business owners and anyone seeking to learn more about Iowa’s entrepreneurial community, will take place in Cedar Rapids June 4-5, 2020. 

EntreFEST is also now accepting speaker applications for the 2020 conference. 

1 Comment

  • Bruce Koerber
    Posted September 21, 2019 at 8:25 am

    It’s also interesting that Cedar Rapids is the place of origin of the divine economy theory.

    Significance? In the early 1870’s at the University of Vienna the economic school of thought called Austrian economics began. It began in the milieu of the flourishing culture of Western Civilization in one of its last bastions in Europe.

    The flourishing entrepreneurial milieu in Cedar Rapids has a great partner – the divine economy theory.

Comments are closed.

NewBoCo announces big plans at inaugural Annual Meeting | 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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