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IEDA awards innovation funding to five startups

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board has approved innovation funding for five Iowa startups.

The startups — located in Ellsworth, Iowa City, Marion, Des Moines and Roland — received a total of $175,000 in funding.

Here are the startups that were awarded funding:

Eagle’s Catch

Eagle’s Catch, an aquaculture company headquartered in Ellsworth, provides safe, fresh and sustainable seafood. The company is currently constructing one of the largest indoor fish farms in the world to produce tilapia, one of the world’s most popular seafood products.

The company was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan for purchasing production-optimizing equipment.

Apollo Technologies

Iowa City-based Apollo Technologies is an internet-based hiring platform designed to match healthcare facilities requiring temporary positions with healthcare providers to ensure all needed services are available at their location. This program allows Apollo’s clients the ability to rapidly fill positions on an on-demand basis.

The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) loan for IP development and evaluation, proof of concept work, product refinement, market planning/market entry activities and key personnel.


Based in Marion, the online marketplace ShopWhereILive helps local businesses, handmade artisans and service providers overcome the barriers of traditional in-person-only sales.

The company was awarded a $25,000 POCR loan for market analysis research, product refinement, key personnel, digital marketing, market planning/market entry activities and IP development.

Trade Labs

Trade Labs, based in Des Moines, is a social marketplace for stock trading education. The platform allows experienced traders to post/create content for inexperienced traders for a monthly subscription fee.

The company was awarded a $25,000 POCR loan for software development, research, software integrations and legal/administrative expenses.


NXGenCare in Roland created a smart toilet seat to help Skilled Nursing Communities/Healthcare Centers automate the charting process of residents by tracking their behavior. This technology provides feedback on a person’s daily well-being and identifies early signs of potential health problems.

The company was awarded a $25,000 POCR loan for proof of concept work and product refinement.

Previous coverage

IEDA awards grants to three entrepreneurial assistance providers, one startup -Feb. 26, 2020

Iowa City Startup Apollo refocuses platform to help tackle coronavirus -March 18, 2020

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IEDA awards innovation funding to five 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
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