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Middle Bit: Viewpoint Molecular Targeting awarded $2 million SBIR grant

Coralville-based Viewpoint Molecular Targeting has been awarded a $2 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Viewpoint is a University of Iowa start-up pharmaceutical company that has developed novel therapy and companion diagnostics for cancer. The award will support preclinical development and a Phase 1 clinical imaging trial of it’s VMT01 companion diagnostic in advance of therapeutic trials.

“We value the NCI’s continued recognition of the importance of our products and its support of our development program,” said Edwin Sagastume, Viewpoint’s lead engineer. “We are excited with the progress we are making to bring our products forward.”

“This award is an excellent next step in advancing Viewpoint’s new therapy to the clinical stage,” said Viewpoint’s Chief Science Officer Michael Schultz. “We could not be more excited about our progress and to expand our clinical trial sites.”

Coe College partners with NewBoCo, hires ‘entrepreneur-in-residence’

Coe College has partnered with NewBoCo to create new “entrepreneur-in-residence” position on the college’s Cedar Rapids campus.

David Tominsky, NewBoCo’s Chief Relationship Officer will fill the new positions, which officials expect will be a permanent campus installment. The new position comes with an on-campus office, where Tominsky will offer one-on-one counseling to students year-round.

The new position grew out of the inaugural Kohawk Startup held last year. The event, sponsored by NewBoCO, was a 24-hour event where Coe students worked in teams to transform their startup ideas into business plans.

Coe College and NewBoCo will be holding the event again this year on Nov. 8 and 9.

BrokerTech Ventures announces four new investment partners

 BrokerTech Ventures, the industry’s first broker-led investor group and accelerator program, has announced four new⁠ investor partners—Assurance, Graham Company, InterWest Insurance Services and Hylant Insurance.

“With the addition of these four agency partners, the BrokerTech Ventures network now spans the country, allowing us to be the first to stake our position in cultivating, curating, and fostering innovation for brokers,” said Dan Keough, Holmes Murphy chairman and CEO and BrokerTech Ventures co-founder. “These BrokerTech Ventures partners are agency leaders with a commitment to innovation and thought leadership, and we’re excited to have their cutting-edge ideas at the table.”

BrokerTech Ventures’ accelerator curriculum will include seed funding for a portion of the chosen startups’ research and testing, a veteran mentoring network and a distribution platform to deploy new technologies.

“With these recent developments, we are celebrating the fact that we can move farther and faster down the innovation curve,” said Mike Victorson, M3 Insurance president and CEO and BrokerTech Ventures co-founder.

The window for startup companies to apply for a spot in the first BrokerTech Ventures cohort will open in late October of this year, with program schedule to launch in February 2020.

Middle Bit: Viewpoint Molecular Targeting awarded $2 million 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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