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Middle Bit: Iowa Innovation Corporation rebrands to ‘BioConnect Iowa’

Iowa Innovation Corporation—the state’s public-private partnership for economic development—is now BioConnect Iowa, a name change that better reflects the organization’s focus on expanding the state’s bioscience sector.

“Innovation in the biosciences offers a great opportunity for Iowa,” said Paul Schickler, chair of BioConnect Iowa’s Board of Directors in an announcement. “Advances in this area will help Iowa farmers improve operations and will provide high-paying jobs for Iowa residents, including our youth. BioConnect Iowa will play an important role in reaching these goals.”

The name change coincides with the award of a three-year grant by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to BioConnect Iowa and its partners: Iowa State University Startup Factory and VentureNet Iowa. This grant will be used to develop the Iowa Go-to-Market (G2M) Program, which will feature a startup accelerator.

“Iowa’s reputation and success as a bioscience epicenter is characterized by a continuous focus on innovation and collaboration,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority. “The transformation of the Iowa Innovation Corporation to BioConnect Iowa is another element of this narrative advancing the state’s thriving biosciences industry.”

BioConnect Iowa will continue to manage the state’s Small Business Innovation Research and Technology Transfer Outreach Program, which connects entrepreneurs to federal grants.

Dwolla announces low-code features

Dwolla, this week, released Drop-In Components, a low-code offering designed to save customers weeks worth of development time on their payment integration called

Each component was built to meet requirements for entering production, allowing organizations to significantly shorten the process for a smooth, streamlined payment integration. 

Dwolla’s Drop-in Components direct sensitive user information that must be provided to create an end user account to Dwolla, rather than the integrating business. A business can copy and paste a Drop-in Component to collect sensitive information about a user, such as their name, address or government-issued ID. That information is then passed directly to Dwolla.

“From the beginning, Dwolla has been committed to providing our customers with the easiest avenues for moving money,” said Brady Harris, Dwolla CEO in an announcement. “The addition of Drop-in Components is a testament to our ability to do so. These components handle the tedious tasks of a payments implementation, allowing developers to streamline the process.” 

Manchester Story leads $3.7 million seed round in Texas-based startup

San Antonio, Texas-based financial startup FloatMe has raised a $3.7 million seed funding round to assist with its mission. The financing was led by West Des Moines-based ManchesterStory Group.

Other participants in the round were Active Capital, SpringTime Ventures, Drummond Road Capital and HTV Industries.

FloatMe is a tool that tries to help people make financial decisions thorough an app that helps users avoid overdraft fees with small advances, and identifies opportunities for people to start saving.

Middle Bit: Iowa Innovation Corporation rebrands to 'BioConnect Iowa' | 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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