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Middle Bit: Alex Taylor named Managing Director of Iowa Startup Accelerator

Alex Taylor has been named the new Managing Director of the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA). 

Taylor, a longtime entrepreneur, business leader, and educator, has plans to expand the Iowa Startup Accelerator as the program enters its seventh year.

“NewBoCo and the ISA are tremendous resources for the region and state,” said Taylor in an announcement. “They offer coworking space and a range of helpful expertise to startup founders in Iowa, including marketing, technology, operations and business development. I look forward to being part of this dynamic team to help organizations grow and succeed in Iowa.”   

Taylor’s career has included time with McLeodUSA, Parsons Technology, LIVEware5, Dell Computer Corporation, Efunds, and most recently Digital Diagnostics in Coralville. In addition to helping establish the Tippie Executive MBA program for the University of Iowa, Taylor continues his teaching appointment as adjunct faculty.

Taylor brings ambitious plans to the Iowa Startup Accelerator in his new role. In addition to increasing statewide awareness and accessibility to the startup accelerator program, Taylor aims to enhance the 13-week program with additional business and educational components and mentoring resources. He also seeks to build ongoing programs and resources to continue the growth and support of participating businesses beyond the 13-week accelerator program.

Iowa Technology Summit goes virtual, opens registration

This year’s Iowa Technology Summit will take place virtually on September 28-29.

This year’s event is free to attend and will include access to online sessions focused on cybersecurity, customer experience, leadership, and innovation from Iowa tech leaders.

This full speaker lineup and agenda have not yet been announced but will be released soon.  

Registration now open for InsurTech Week 2020

Registration is open now for the 2020 InsurTech Week, hosted virtually this year by the Global Insurance Accelerator on Oct. 12-16.

20 growth-stage insurtech companies will highlight the week alongside more than 25 of the GIA’s alumni companies from the past six 100-day #accelerator programs.

Check out the full schedule and register here

Middle Bit: Alex Taylor named Managing Director of Iowa Startup Accelerator | 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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