Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

IEDA approves innovation funding for four startups

Last week, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board approved innovation funding that will support four Iowa startups located in Ames, Iowa City, West Des Moines and West Liberty. 

Here are the four startups that received funding:

Skroot Laboratory (Ames)

Founded in 2018, Skroot Laboratory produces wireless sensor systems for upstream biotherapeutic process developers which allow them to make rigorous models, reduce risk of progressing costly conditions/products and decrease time to market.

The Ames-based company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) loan for product refinement, market planning and market entry activities and key personnel.

Malum (Iowa City)

Malum delivers a broad array of artificial intelligence-derived tools that range from keeping individuals safe from physical harm to optimizing their performance. The company was awarded a $100,000 loan from the Demonstration Fund for equipment and key personnel.

Virtual Assistance Tools (West Des Moines)

Virtual Insurance Tools, based in West Des Moines, helps independent insurance agents, agencies, banks, broker dealers and brokerage firms grow new life insurance revenue.

The company was awarded a $100,000 loan from the Demonstration Fund for product refinement, market planning and market entry activities and key personnel.

Skilled Day (West Liberty)

Skilled Day creates software that allows providers and patients in skilled facilities access to their schedules. The software reduces waste and removes conflicts by allowing staff to schedule their time efficiently, while giving patients clarity about their schedule, leading to a more enjoyable and productive stay.

The company was awarded a $25,000 POCR loan for product refinement and market planning and market entry activities.

IEDA approves innovation funding for four startups | 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