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Middle Bit: KinoSol launches online curriculum platform

KinoSol announced this week that it is launching a new initiative for social entrepreneurs called Launch Impact.

Launch impact is a platform that will help other social impact entrepreneurs learn the steps to get from an idea to launching and growing their impact.

“In the past few months, a lot has changed around the world. It’s forced KinoSol to adjust and reevaluate how we are going to continue making an impact. We want to continue supporting our university partners, students, and communities in Uganda, and to do that we’ve had to adapt,” wrote Kinosol in an announcement.

The Launch Impact Platform will offer multiple social entrepreneurship courses. The first course, “Finding Your BIG Idea”, will guide entrepreneurs toward finding their next idea that has big impact. 

Kinosol says in the coming months it will roll out subsequent courses to help those who enroll move from finding their idea to validating, launching, and scaling impact.

Benekiva makes finals of Insurtech Hartford Innovation Challenge

West Des Moines startup Benekiva is a finalist in Insurtech Hartford’s 2020 Innovation Challenge.

Insurtech Hartford next week will award $50,000 in cash and prizes to entrepreneurs trailblazing new technologies in the insurance industry.

The organization founded and run by local insurance professionals will hold its annual Innovation Challenge virtually on Thursday, June 18, at 11 a.m., to crown winners in three categories, in addition to an audience favorite award. 

Insurtech Hartford said the contest had nearly 100 submissions from entrepreneurs, students and other innovators from both inside and outside the insurance industry.

Monetery 2020 canceled

Monetery 2020 has officially been canceled.

“Due to COVID-19 concerns, we feel it is in the best interest of all attendees that we do not host the event, stated the announcement. “We believe in the Monetery vision and look forward to hosting you all once again in 2021.”

All those who purchased tickets will receive a full refund.

Middle Bit: KinoSol launches online curriculum platform | 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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