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Legov Sytstems Group receives $225,000 SBIR Grant

Legov Systems Group has been awarded a $225,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct research and development work on a Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Thermal Energy Harvesting System.

Based in Nevada, Iowa, Legov Systems Group is developing an SMA actuator comprised of porous SMA material operating in a compact rotary form. The actuator’s porous material will allow for fast heat transfer and phase transformation, compared to solid SMA actuators.

The grant will support research headed by Legov Systems Group co-founders, Julie Slaughter, Kelly Rowles and Rick Zrostlik.

“Legov Systems Group is developing fast-acting SMA actuators as a key part of our thermal energy harvesting system,” Zrostlik said. “This novel actuator is expected to result in the recovery of substantially more power from low-grade waste heat than competing technologies, potentially leading to reduced operating costs, reduced energy demands, and improved sustainability for targeted users such as owners/operators of combined heat and power (CHP) installations, metal manufacturers, chemical processors, industrial boilers, and other industrial facilities currently unable to recover the substantial amounts of low-grade waste heat that their facilities generate.”

Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant, it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant of up to $1,000,000.

Previous coverage

ISU Startup Factory announces eighth cohort -Jan. 27, 2020

Legov Sytstems Group receives $225,000 SBIR Grant | 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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