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ISU Startup Factory accepts 11 teams into its ninth cohort

The Iowa State University Startup Factory today announced its ninth cohort of entrepreneurs entering the Iowa State-based program.

Ten teams joined the program, along with one honorary member selected to participate.

The program started on June 25 with a virtual kick-off reception. Cohort members, program staff, mentors, advisors, and investors joined the virtual ceremony held to celebrate program successes, honor past and graduating cohort members, and introduce the incoming cohort.

“Since its June 2016 launch, with this new cohort, the ISU Startup Factory has accepted 123 startups into the program,” said David Spalding, Interim Vice President for Economic Development and Business Engagement. “From that beginning, our companies have attracted almost $33 million in external funding. When you look at that over a four-year period, that’s an impressive dollar amount. That’s a tribute really not only to the quality of the program, the quality of the team involved in it, but also, the great opportunities there are here in Central Iowa, coming out of Iowa State, coming out of this region, to be in a position to start up scalable businesses here in our area.”

The following are the names of the participating startups in the ninth cohort:

Cyber Manufacturing and Metrology Solution, LLC (CM2S) 
Led by Hantang Qin, Cyber Manufacturing and Metrology Solution is an Iowa start-up consulting firm with a commitment to excellence in the field of additive manufacturing, cyber-metrology, and nondestructive testing and inspection. CM2S performs testing and inspection on a wide variety of fabricated structures as well as industrial and commercial products.

Led by Scott Neff, Mary Beth Neff, Doug Svendsen, and Linda Svendsen. Iowa leads the nation in the production of corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, and ethanol. iO1 is developing a brand for products that primarily uses those commodities as their main ingredients.

Novus Technologies 
A biotechnology company which manufactures and distributes graphene for biomedical applications. The team provides guidance with understanding properties and characterization of graphene using smart prediction tools for pioneering research.

Peach Pay, Inc.
Led by Aaryaman Anerao and John Jago, Peach Pay is a mobile app creating seamless checkout experiences for online shoppers.

Salen 247, Inc. 
Founded by Dave Krog and Saeed Arabj, Salen 247 is an Iowa-based company developing small-scale, light-weight, electric-powered, autonomous farm equipment used for growing crops.

Founded by Rodrigo Pedrozo, seedBiome exists to explore and harness the microbiomes of commercial and wild seeds to design microbiological solutions to boost food production, quality, and safety.

Led by Yones Khaledian, SoilSerdem produces soil fertility maps based on an optimized soil sampling method. Machine learning algorithms and remotely sensed information is utilized for map creation.

Led by Eric Weflen, Sushi3D helps product development teams create functional, testable prototypes in-house to increase speed to market. Subtractive 3D printing technology allows for fully solid rapid prototyping in final production materials.

Founded by Tim Garrett, VisiHut specializes in connecting building plans for architecture, engineering, and construction professionals with immersive, collaborative, and interactive experiences in augmented and virtual reality.

Transport Sect 
Led by Mubark Jedh and Lotfi Ben Othmane, Transport Sect is developing a platform to detect malicious attacks on today’s connected and smart vehicles and alert vehicle owners to potential cyber security concerns.

Pediatric Assistance
Founded by Shawana Tabassum, Pediatric Assistance is developing a point-of-care diagnostic device for infants that detects three major diseases — sepsis, jaundice, and hypoglycemia — in a single biochip.

The descriptions of the companies listed above have been provided by ISU Startup Factory.

ISU Startup Factory accepts 11 teams into its ninth 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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