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IEDA awards funding to seven startups

Last week, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board approved innovation funding for seven startups located throughout the state. In total, $850,000 was awarded to the seven startups.

Here are the 17 organizations that received funding:

3D Health Solutions (Ames)

3D Health Solutions (3DHS), seeks to improve preclinical screening methods of therapeutic drugs for Pharmaceutical Research and Development. The transformational technology is based on the development of “miniature 3D organs,” called organoids, for preclinical evaluation of drug oral absorption. Organoids represent intestinal physiology much more closely than currently available methods and provide a superior drug screening assay for evaluating the absorption of orally administered drugs. With its technology, 3DHS will aid pharmaceutical customers in developing new drugs in a more timely and cost-effective manner, thus decreasing overall healthcare costs for patients. The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) loan for proof of concept work and key personnel.

STRATAFOLIO (Cedar Rapids)

STRATAFOLIO is a cloud-based software application that provides asset and property management analytics for people who own and manage commercial real estate and need a tool to streamline their operations. Portfolios typically manage their business manually in tedious spreadsheets that provide incomplete views into their operations. STRATAFOLIO’s financial, asset, operation, and investor management applications allow clients to eliminate, on average, 80% of wasted time and effort, as well as provide crucial analytics to help with strategic planning and improve ROI.

The company was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan for product refinement, market planning/entry, and key personnel.

Higher Learning Technologies (Coralville)

Higher Learning Technologies (HLT) creates professional healthcare educational solutions. Using one core technology platform, HLT creates video, audio, and text materials through in-house efforts, contractors, and external partnerships that work across all PCs and mobile devices. The platform will solve the problem of outdated and ineffective healthcare educational technology by containing test prep, continuing education, and lifelong learning inside one app.

The company was awarded a $400,000 Innovation Acceleration Expansion fund loan for product refinement.

Aeroseeder (Garnavillo)

Aeroseeder builds drone seeders to carry out cover crop seeding. The company created the small seeding aircraft to maximize efficiency. The drones can be applied where land-based equipment cannot be used or where manned aircrafts are not economical.

The company was awarded a $25,000 POCR loan for product refinement, equipment, and key personnel.

Gross-Wen Technologies (Slater)

An Iowa State University spinoff, Gross-Wen Technologies has a patented algae system known as the revolving algal biofilm treatment system marketed under the RABTM brand. The technology enables the effective and sustainable use of algae to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater. It can also be used with clean water to grow high-value algae (“clean algae”) for various uses to include nutraceuticals, human food and animal feeds.

The company was awarded a $250,000 Innovation Acceleration Propel fund for product refinement and key personnel.

Armorloy (St. Charles)

Armorloy applies advanced ceramic alloy armor to products for everyday use. Armorloy reengineers everyday products utilizing a revolutionary new form of advanced ceramic technology to make longer-lasting, more durable products.

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

VEMTOWA (West Des Moines)

VEMTOWA, doing business as SuperBio, is a national product development company that manufactures, markets and sells SuperBio Probiotic. Utilizing high quality research and scientific expertise, SuperBio plans to work on treating lung injury with Bilva, an ayurvedic treatment with potential respiratory benefits, by producing a pharmaceutical product that can work alone or in combination with other treatment strategies.

The company was awarded a $25,000 POCR loan for IP development and evaluation, proof of concept work and equipment.

IEDA awards funding to seven startups | 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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