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Runway Innovation Studio to launch learning pods for students this fall

Many students across the country, and in Des Moines, are starting the school year online.

Runway Innovation and Event Studio, located inside Southridge Center, is offering learning pods this fall for a limited number of families to allow for social distancing.

Des Moines’ Runway Innovation Studio space will provide a space for parents with children to work and a separate area where their children can follow their school’s curriculum virtually. Learning Facilitators will be onsite to help students with online learning, make sure students are keeping on track with their curriculum, and help with any technical issues.

“If you are a remote working parent, or a freelancer, or an entrepreneur—someone who wants to use our coworking space as an adult—you are welcome to bring your children who are school-aged that are also trying to learn,” said Laura Kinnard, owner of Runway Innovation and Event Studio.

Kinnard says the 31,000 square ft. space will provide more than enough space to allow for social distancing for both parents and students.

Membership rates for parents who want to bring their children in will be $400 a month. The learning pods will become available Sept. 8, the first day of classes for students in the Des Moines Public Schools District.

In addition to providing a coworking space for parents and learning pods for students, the Innovation Studio space provides several other amenities onsite for an additional cost. These include an e-Sports game club, a Virtual Reality Arena, and an on-site gym facility.

Those interested in reserving the learning pods can contact Laura Kinnard at 515-689-7792.

Runway Innovation Studio to launch learning pods for students this fall | 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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