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Middle Bit: ‘Des Moines Emerge Stronger Virtual Fair’ set for May 14-15

Next Thursday and Friday Curated Growth will be hosting a virtual fair for business to share stories about how their businesses have pivoted and share insight about how they plan to emerge stronger.

Throughout the event will be several live sessions including yoga, laugh therapy, business pivot inspiration, in-home fitness training, cooking at home classes, happy hour music and more.

Registration for the event is free. Those interested in present a session can email Laura Kinnard at for details.

Startup Weekend Iowa City goes virtual

In response to COVID-19, this year’s Startup Weekend Iowa City has shifted to a virtual event.

Set to take place July 17-19, Startup Weekend is a 54-hour weekend event, during which entrepreneurs, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and then deliver final presentations at the end of the weekend.

Over the course of the weekend, teams will be challenged to create a prototype of their minimum viable product, that fits the needs of their target customer.

Tickets are available now at

UI part of $3.7 million grant to study ways to reduce risk of infection for ER staff

The University of Iowa is part of a nearly $4 million dollar grant to look into ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection for emergency room staff.

The $3.7 million Centers for Disease Control & Prevention grant is for a 12-week study involving 1,600 emergency department personnel from 20 academic health care institutions across the country.

The goal of the study is to find out what practices and what personal protective equipment (PPE) are the most effective at preventing COVID-19 infections in an emergency situation.

The study will be called COVID-19 Evaluation of Risk for Emergency Departments (COVERED) Project and will include physicians, nurses, and other staff like clerks, social workers, or case managers.

Middle Bit: 'Des Moines Emerge Stronger Virtual Fair' set for May 14-15 | 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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