Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Four startups receive funding from IEDA

Last week, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board approved innovation funding for four startups located in Ames, Cedar Falls and DeWitt. In total, $100,000 was awarded to the four startups.

Hear are the four startups that received funding:

Curiosity Labs

Curiosity Labs, a data acquisition company in Ames, develops platforms that automate manual visual tasks with computer vision. With a camera-enabled microscope for parasite detection in soil samples, they can answer questions for farmers regarding the reduction in soybean yields from common parasites, like nematodes. The cost of testing is high because the process is manual, which prevents farmers from treating the soil. Curiosity Labs’ automated platform decreases the testing cost, improves testing consistency and increases throughput.

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


Ames-based Distynct uses A.I. and smart camera technologies to provide swine producers with a fully automated herd monitoring solution. Distynct helps swine producers overcome the burden of relying on the retrospective evaluation of data that is manually recorded. The technology puts critical production data such as real-time inventory, mortality monitoring, bio-security tracking, and supply chain mapping at the fingertips of caregivers and key decision makers.

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


Dhakai, based in Cedar Falls, is a B2B online sourcing marketplace offering an alternative way to source for apparel companies. Dhakai’s technology application connects U.S. retailers and private labels directly to verified Southeast Asian apparel manufacturers, allowing buyers to plug in their sourcing needs and then view the most relevant factories based on the search algorithm. Their global transparency, compliance and sustainability data help reduce costs and time.

The company was awarded a $25,000 POCR loan for IP development, market planning/market entry activities and key personnel.

FarmHand App

FarmHand App’s online platform gives farmers and ranchers the ability to easily connect with quality farm hands. With the technology, farmers can view a farm hand’s work experience and availability, as well as review applications and handle communication, providing a more efficient and cost-effective way to hire and manage farm hands.

The company, based in DeWitt, was awarded a $25,000 POCR loan for product refinement, market planning/market entry activities and other expenses.

Four startups receive funding from IEDA | 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