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Middle Bit: CYstarters announces 2020 cohort

CYstarters has announced the 19 student entrepreneurs that will participate in the fourth cohort of the program this summer.

The 11–week program, coordinated by the Iowa State Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, gives student entrepreneurs the funding, network of mentors, and skill-set development to help them pursue their business ideas while in college.

To start the program, CYstarters will be holding a 2020 Community Kick-Off at ISU Research Park on May 21 from 12:30 to 1:30 pm.

TAI launches new website, seeking speakers for Iowa Tech Summit

TAI this week launched a redeveloped website designed to elevate the TAI digital experience while connecting and uniting technology professionals across Iowa.

The new site provides easy access to engaging events, news, resources, and tech-focused content to support and elevate the Iowa technology community.

TAI is also seeking speakers for the Iowa Technology Summit this fall. Apply to be a speaker at the Iowa Technology Summit today. Submissions are being accepted through May 29th.

Applications Open for the GIA’s 2020 InsurTech Week

Applications are now open for Global Insurance Accelerator’s Insurtech Week.

The sixth annual InsurTech Week will take place October 12-16, 2020. Applications for insurtech companies are open now and close on July 22, 2020. 

If you’re an insurtech company and interested in learning more about InsurTech Week before you apply, GIA is holding a 30-minute Zoom Webinar on May 20 from 1:00 – 1:30 pm. Sign up here.

Middle Bit: CYstarters announces 2020 cohort | 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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