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Middle Bit: ICAD hires first full-time director for Iowa EdTech Collaborative

The Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) has announced the hiring of Dr. Mark Butland as Director of the Iowa EdTech Collaborative.

Butland will lead the execution of the Iowa EdTech Collaborative strategy; connecting ecosystem organizations and companies, enhancing the piloting and demonstration environment for EdTech in Iowa, improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and creating and encouraging workforce development activities.

“Leading the Iowa EdTech Collaborative will be an opportunity to think big, make meaningful connections, and drive impactful change in classrooms across the United States while growing our local and state economy,” said Butland.

Before moving to Iowa City to serve as the Dean of Kirkwood Community Colleges’ Iowa City campus Butland served as Professor and Faculty Senate President at Austin Community College. During his time in Austin, he pioneered a distance learning hybrid format for delivering communication courses online and facilitated and led large-scale change initiatives.

“With extensive leadership experience in higher education and a proven track record of leading large scale initiatives, Dr. Butland is a perfect choice for the Iowa EdTech Collaborative Director role,” said Dr. Ada Woo, Chief of Staff and Senior Director at Ascend Learning. “I am excited to support Mark and the ICAD team as we advance the education technology sector and build a robust state-wide edtech ecosystem.”

“Mark’s leadership experiences at Kirkwood and Austin Community Colleges paired with his passion for bringing people together and his demonstrated ability to be innovative and forward-thinking is a perfect match for the Director role. We’re excited to have someone with his past experiences in education, EdTech, and entrepreneurial collaboration leading this initiative,” said Kate Moreland, President of ICAD. 

Nominations open for 2021 Prometheus Awards

The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) has announced that the nomination period is now open for the 2021 Prometheus Awards.

Nominations will be accepted through August 13. To submit a nomination, visit Finalists will be announced in early September, and winners will be recognized at the 2021 Prometheus Awards on Nov. 4.

Continuum Ag Field Day

Continuum Ag is holding its annual Soil Health field day on June 7th in Washington, Iowa.

Rick Clark, Dr. Rick Haney, Secretary Mike Naig, Zach Johnson and a host of others will highlight the day’s keynote talks, panel discussions, and breakouts. Join this free event in person or online for the latest in soil health, sustainability, and carbon.

This event is free, but registration is required. 

Middle Bit: ICAD hires first full-time director for Iowa EdTech Collaborative | 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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