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Mazen Animal Health closes seed round, announces new hires

Mazen Animal Health announced today the close of its Series Seed Round led by Next Level Ventures and joined by Kent Corporation, ISA Ventures, Ag Startup Engine, Ag Ventures Alliance and Summit Ag.

The company is developing orally-delivered animal vaccines that revolutionize animal disease prevention. All six first tranche investors came into the second tranche of the Series Seed to close at the targeted amount of $2 million.

The seed funding fund further regulatory development for Mazen’s lead Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) vaccine candidate, scale-up of pipeline products, and preparations for registration studies.

“I continue to be impressed with the collaborative and supportive entrepreneurial environment in Iowa,” said Jenny Filbey, CEO of Mazen in an announcement. “With the investment, we are building a high-powered, diverse team and Board of Directors that brings experience and passion for our platform.”

Rick Sibbel is joining Mazen as Strategic and Technical Lead, with deep experience in animal vaccines. In his 30 plus years in the Animal Health Industry total, Dr. Sibbel has helped license more than 20 vaccines for livestock and poultry. Mark Zylstra is joining the company as Director of Regulatory Affairs to guide the company through the regulatory process.

The company also announced today the appointment of Kevin Fields, Joel Harris, and Terry Coffey to its Board of Directors.

“Kent Corporation views Mazen’s production platform for biologics as a strong next-generation technology,” said Fields, President and Chief Administration Officer of Kent. “I am pleased to be part of the Board of Directors and look forward to supporting Mazen’s continued successful track record.”

The company will raise Series A funding in the second half of 2021, which will be used to complete the registration studies for licensure of the PEDV oral vaccine, build the pipeline and expand the team and capabilities.

Previous coverage

Ag Startup Engine announces two $50,000 investments -March 1, 2021

Iowa G2M Accelerator announces the 5 startups in its first cohort -Feb. 23, 2021

Mazen Animal Health closes seed round, announces new hires | 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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