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Two Iowa Companies accepted into AgLaunch365 accelerator

Six startup companies have been chosen that will participate in the AgLaunch365 accelerator after winning the 2019 AgLaunch Row Crop Challenge at the Farm Journal AgTech Expo earlier this month.

Two of the six companies—Continuum Ag and Sigma0—are based in Iowa. The six AgLaunch Row Crop Challenge winners are:

  • Agrynex (Ithaca, NY) — packs and deploys antimicrobial systems for efficient crop protection with fewer chemicals
  • Continuum Ag (Washington, IA) — quantifies and improves soil health by integrating diverse soil data into the online platform, resulting in actionable results
  • Lepidext (Lexington, KY) — revolutionizing corn earworm pest control with an organic method for suppressing adult moths
  • Nexyst360 (St. Cloud, MN) — a mobile solution for crop storage and transportation. We provide high-quality crops with full traceability tothe field of origin and date with the crop
  • Nori (Seatle, WA) — a platform that makes it easy for farmers to get paid for storing carbon in their soils
  • Sigma0 (Des Moines, IA) — enables crop management companies to access agronomic insights from radar technology, enabling them to zero in on crop details and provide better decisions for farmers

The six accepted companies will spend four weeks in Memphis, working their business strategy and preparing for summer field trials with AgLaunch’s Farmer Network.

As part of acceptance into the program, the companies will also receive investment from Innova Memphis and Ag Ventures Alliance. Innova Memphis’ Ag Innovation Fund IV is a $31 million, fund that focuses on early-stage investments anchored in rural America. Since announcing the Ag Innovation Fund, the firm has invested in four Iowa companies: Agrisync, Rantizo, SwineTech and Tractor Zoom.

“We are excited about the caliber and vision of these teams, and their capacity to totally transform the future of row crop agriculture,” said Schuyler Dalton, Director of Farmer Network and Entrepreneurship at AgLaunch in an announcement. 

This will be the fifth cohort of the AgLaunch365 accelerator. Previous Iowa companies accepted into the accelerator include AgriSync, Rantizo and Swinetech.

Previous coverage

Innova Memphis invests in Iowa companies as it expands its focus to agtech -Nov. 14, 2018

Continuum Ag is offering soil health solutions at scale -Nov. 6, 2019

Two Iowa Companies accepted into AgLaunch365 accelerator | 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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