Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Middle Bit: Maple Ventures welcomes droneSAR to its workspace

West Des Moines-based entrepreneurial support center Maple Ventures has welcomed droneSAR, an alum of the most recent Iowa Agritech Accelerator cohort.

Maple Ventures has been home to startups FarrPro, Hartsmart Products and MākuSafe Corp. Now, droneSAR is finding their new home in the Maple Ventures family.

We are excited to have droneSAR enter our Maple Ventures space,” said Hank Norem, President of Maple Ventures. “We hope to see them grow rapidly here while building their team and scaling their business.”

Maple Ventures offers a mutual value-add system by aligning itself with businesses that have the potential to grow into industry partners.

“The droneSAR team brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in high-tech hardware and software, which aligns with the core of our business as an automation solutions provider,” said Norem. “They are a constant study of emerging technologies and methodologies related to machine-learning and artificial intelligence and works to push the boundaries of the industry.”

droneSAR brings radar sensing technology for drones to agriculture, to help growers gain insight into their crops to maximize yields by giving them valuable, actionable insights to their fields.

“After graduating from the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator program, we were looking for a small space that could support our engineering and business development efforts and was startup-friendly. We found that and so much more at Maple Ventures, said CEO and Founder Alan Langman. “They provide us with all the support functions to allow us to focus on bringing our product to our customers and you are surrounded by other great companies with amazing, kind, and supportive people.”

Iowa State AgEI and Ag Startup Engine hosting conference on Oct. 17 in Ames

Iowa State University’s Agriculture Entrepreneur Initiative (AgEl) is partnering together with Ag Startup to host a conference that will bring together entrepreneurs and agtech investors to discuss current and future challenges within the agtech industry.

The morning panel of the event titled, “Angry AgtechEntrepreneurs: Why is it so hard to fund my idea?” will have a wide range of agtech founders:

  • Casey Niemann, Founder of AgriSync
  • Steven Brockshus, CEO and founder of FarmlandFinder
  • Kyle McMahan, CEO and founder of Tractor Zoom
  • Michael Koenig, President of ScoutPro Inc.
  • Dr. Jenny Filbey, CEO and founder of Mazen Animal Health
  • Dr. Wayne Freese, President of Cambridge Technologies
  • Moderated by Joel Harris, Co-director of Ag Startup Engine

Kimle Aquaculture awarded $100,000 through a Wellmark Venture Capital Fund investment

Kimle Aquaculture has been awarded a $100,000 investment through the Wellmark Venture Capital Fund.

Founded in 2018, Iowa-based Kimle Aquaculture is developing a proprietary turnkey solution for indoor fish production. The technology aims to solve many challenges aquaculture producers face by simplifying facility design while increasing production and lowering producers’ operational and energy consumption costs.

The Wellmark investment will help finance a portion of construction and operating costs for a planned full-scale research and development shrimp demonstration production facility.

Kimle Aquaculture also received a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan from the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board in September.

“Funding through Wellmark Venture Capital Fund and IEDA helps bring us one step closer to sustainable seafood production in Iowa,” said Jackson Kimle, co-founder and General Manager of Kimle Aquaculture. “The facility will allow our company to prove our systems’ performance at commercial scale and sell to future customers.”

The facility will allow Kimle Aquaculture to scale its production of shrimp and algae and secure purchase agreements for these products.

“We see a growing opportunity for aquaculture farming right here in Iowa,” Kimle said. “Our scalable, sustainable solution will help farmers looking to enter this niche market the chance to jump on the bandwagon, to reap the benefits of aquaculture farming’s broad market appeal and increase their profit margins.”

Middle Bit: Maple Ventures welcomes droneSAR to its workspace | 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