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Iowa Energy Center board awards $2.7 million in energy grants

The Iowa Energy Center (IEC) has awarded $2,721,102 in grants to 11 energy projects across Iowa.

These funds enable eligible applicants to pursue projects that align with one of the seven key focus areas of the Iowa Energy Plan.

Some of the projects that received funding included an Iowa Energy Curriculum for Secondary Classrooms at UNI and a Workforce Development Program for rural Iowa communities.

“Iowa is the proud home to a robust and diverse mix of energy resources, advantages and talented professionals,” said Debi Durham, director of IEDA and the Iowa Finance Authority in an announcement. “The varied projects funded today are a great example of Iowa further investing to advance our energy economy.”

The IEC received 65 pre-applications, totaling more than $18 million in funding requests. Twenty-two projects, requesting nearly $6 million, completed a full application.

Here are the 11 projects that received funding:

OrganizationProject NameAward
University of Northern IowaIowa Rural Energy Planning$395,680
Iowa State UniversityPaired Electrolyzer for Conversion of Crude Glycerin and Waste CO2$156,000
University of Northern IowaDeveloping an Iowa Energy Curriculum for Secondary Classrooms$418,696
Iowa State UniversityLow-cost Biobased Composite Material for Ultradurable and Recyclable Wind Turbine Blades$450,436
Iowa State UniversityAn Origami Structural Design for Natural Gas Pipeline Rehabilitation$266,720
The Energy GroupIowa Rural Healthcare Micro-Grid Feasibility Analysis$69,000
Energy Association of Iowa SchoolsGrow Energy Workforce Development Program for Rural Iowa Communities$190,000
Iowa State UniversityStoring Excess Solar/Wind Electricity as Biorenewable Fuels by Electrocatalytic Biomass Conversion$239,227
Iowa State UniversityPredicting Battery Lifetime with Early-Life Data for Grid Applications$280,070
Iowa State UniversityImprove Battery Energy Efficiency Via Structural Design and 3D Printing for Electric Vehicles$244,698
Building Enclosure Council of IowaBuilding Enclosure Council of Iowa Education Program$10,575
Iowa Energy Center board awards $2.7 million in energy grants | 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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