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ISU Student Innovation Center launches new programs for campus and public

With the opening of the Student Innovation Center at Iowa State University comes new opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the public to interact with and learn from industry leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship. The state-of-the-art Student Innovation Center opened its doors in August and kicked off a series of events, lectures and one-of-a-kind professional training.

“We offer students unique and opportunity-expanding relationships with global industry leaders,” said Karen Kerns, entrepreneur-in-residence for the ISU President’s Initiative for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Attending these innovation mindset sessions, in combination with completion of the Innovation Fellows Corps requirements, differentiates ISU students from their peers and accelerates their professional progress.”

Learn about these series and more opportunities this fall:

Flagship Fridays

The “Flagship Fridays: What IF – Innovators Forum” series offers moderated, online conversations for all (ISU-affiliated and the public) to hear directly from industry leaders about their personal stories of innovation and their perspectives on why innovation is such a critical driver of social and economic progress and sustainability.

See the full lineup online at

Short Circuits

Innovation Short Circuits are designed for industry experts and influencers to lead two-hour conversations on topics to help students gain expertise in innovation mindset, skills and practices.

Find all upcoming Short Circuit events at

Innovation Fellows Corps

The new Innovation Fellows Corps program pairs ISU students with industry leaders and collaborators to create programs, products and ideas that can change the world. The experience-based program features more than 50 industry influencers delivering free programming during the academic year.

Student Innovation Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in monthly conversations and workshops, network and build relationships, create programs and products, enhance their academic and professional experiences at Iowa State, and work with mentors.

Students who complete all three of the program’s “relays” will be designated an Innovation Fellow. Students can learn more and apply online:

More opportunities

ISU Student Innovation Center launches new programs for campus and public | 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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