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Middle Bit: Gener8tor hosting pitch event for Black and Brown Founders

Nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor recently announced a new opportunity for Black and Brown founders to pitch to investors through its Lightning Rounds pitch event on March 4, 2021.

Lightning Rounds is gener8tor’s quarterly event that connects startups with accelerators and investors via quick-pitch opportunities. Through Lighting Rounds, gener8tor’s goal is to create an industry-leading pitching series centered on investing in underrepresented founders. gener8tor believes a gold-standard pitch event that connects diverse-led innovation, venture capitalists and thought leaders is long overdue.

The deadline for startups to apply is Feb. 1, 2021. Investors interested in participating in this event can reach out to

John Deere announces startups for 2021 Startup Collaboration Program

John Deere has announced four startups that will participate in its 2021 Startup Collaboration program. Launched in 2019, the cohort enhances and deepens its interaction with a start-up whose technology could add value for John Deere customers.

“The Startup Collaborator program continues to build tremendous interactions between startups and John Deere,” said Julian Sanchez, Director of Emerging Technology for John Deere in an announcement. “This year is no different as this diverse group of companies has great potential to transform our markets.”

Nori (Seattle, WA)

Nori is working to reverse climate change by building a carbon market where entities from individuals to large corporations can purchase carbon credits directly from farmers.

NVision Ag (Columbia, MO)

NVision Ag uses aerial images and patented University of Missouri research to create yield loss maps, total yield loss estimates, and N rate control files. The company has developed a platform that helps corn farmers make nitrogen management decisions.

Scanit (Fremont, CA)

Scanit is enabling growers to proactively maximize yields and minimize operating costs through early detection of airborne pathogens.

Teleo (Palo Alto, CA)

Teleo is converting existing construction and mining equipment into remote-controlled robots. Operators can control machines from miles away, which increases operator productivity, enhances crew safety, and improves jobsite insights.

Applications open for Iowa Innovation Challenge

Applications are opening for the business model competition of the Iowa Innovation Challenge.

The competition will be held in spring 2021 and will award $150,000 in prizes to startups associated with University of Iowa faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

The deadline to apply is March 31.

Middle Bit: Gener8tor hosting pitch event for Black and Brown Founders | 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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