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ISU listed among top patent producers in 2019

Iowa State University

For the third straight year Iowa State University has been listed among the top 100 worldwide universities to be granted patents during a calendar year.

The Iowa State University Research Foundation, Inc. — which processes and holds patents tied to Iowa State research — tied for No. 77 on the 2019 list. Iowa State tied with Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, with 38 patents.

“This ranking is an indicator of Iowa State University’s excellent reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State’s President in an announcement. “It shows that our faculty are among the best in the world at transferring their cutting-edge research to the marketplace to create economic opportunities and benefit Iowans and citizens around the world.”

The latest annual list was released this week and was compiled by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

Dana Rewoldt, the president of the research foundation and the interim director of the Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer says Iowa State patents come from across the university. “We have inventions that are useful in agriculture, useful in veterinary medicine, useful in engineering – we just have a body of useful research work,” she said.

The annual rankings have been compiled since 2013. Iowa State tied for 69th in 2018, tied for 83rd in  2017, tied for 70th in 2014, and tied for 86th in 2013.

The top 100 list is based on data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Iowa State is the only Iowa school on this year’s list.

ISU listed among top patent producers in 2019 | 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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