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Middle Bit: IGDA Des Moines hosting Global Game Jam this weekend

For the third year in a row, IGDA Des Moines, a local chapter of the International Game Developers Association, is hosting a jam site in Des Moines as part of Global Game Jam.

Global Game Jam is the world’s largest game jam event, taking place all around the world at over 860 physical locations in over 113 countries. This year’s location for IGDA will be Gravitate Coworking Downtown. The jam will begin this evening 5pm this evening and go until 5 pm on Sunday, Feb. 2.

Last year, IGDA Des Moines had nearly 30 participants created more than 10 games as part of the Global Game Jam.

Registration for the event is free.

Sentinel wins $20,000 at Ag Tech Pitch Competition

Sentinel took home the top award in the 2020 Iowa Power Farming Show Ag Tech Innovation Competition this week.

The competition featured five ag-tech start-ups pitching their latest ideas to help farmers manage their operations more effectively.

The competition, emceed by Rural Radio Network’s Chad Moyer culminated with one company earning the $5,000 People’s Choice award and the winning company receiving a $20,000 grand prize.

Sentinel took the top prize in the competition, while AgButler won the People’s Choice award.

Earlier this week, Sentinel received an intial investment from Ag Startup Engine, an Ames-based fund that invests in Iowa-based ag companies.


The Global Insurance Accelerator welcomed eight new cohorts to Des Moines this week as it hosted its Welcome Reception Wednesday night.

Each of the eight cohorts spoke briefly to the crowd, introducing themselves and sharing information about their respective startups

GIA will conclude the 2020 program with final presentations as part of a “demo day” at the Global Insurance Symposium on April 22.

Middle Bit: IGDA Des Moines hosting Global Game Jam this weekend | 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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