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ISU Startup Factory announces its tenth cohort

The Iowa State University Startup Factory announced this month its tenth cohort of entrepreneurs entering the Iowa State-based program.

The following are the names of the nine participating startups in the tenth cohort.

Frugi Biotechnology

Founded by Jared Dopp, Frugi Biotechnology is a paper-based diagnostic that uses synthetic biology to detect pathogens.

MacroLei Technologies

Founded by Nacu Hernandez, Baker Kuehl, and Austin Hohmann, MacroLei Technologies was established in 2020 to commercialize the use of soybean oil-based thermoplastic elastomers as a cost- and performance-advantaged additive for asphalt-containing products.

Lineage Mapper

Founded by Allison Hockey, Lineage Mapper is bringing genealogy into the 21st century with innovative ancestral mapping platforms.


Founded by Nataniel Kallmyre, Zymosense develops probes for high-throughput enzyme measurements that allow the rapid discovery and design of new enzymes.

Mosquitos & Me

Founded by Dr. Katherine Richardson Bruna, Mosquitos & Me is a story-driven, discovery-oriented, kid-based STEAM curriculum that facilitates place-based inquiry and community science practices and promotes understanding of and engagement with the intersection of human, animal, and environmental health.

Rosenberg Solutions

Founded by Aaron Rosenberg, Rosenberg Solutions is developing a next-generation active wake controller that will enable wind farm operators to increase the lifetime value of their wind farms.

Stratified Surface Solutions

Founded by Dr. Shan Jiang, Yifan Li, and Rebecca Mort, Stratified Surface Solutions offers novel technology to design coating materials and create surfaces with better performance and new functionality.

Nistron, LLC.

Founded by Neda Sanatkaran, Nistron LLC. offers cell encapsulated 3D microfiber scaffolds as in vitro tissue models with high physiological relevancy for cell therapy and drug discovery research.

Ruben Aria

Ruben Aria aims to promote a convenient healthy eating approach by introducing a product that innovates the way lettuce wraps are made.

Other ISU Startup Factory News

  • Hannah Kirkendall joined the Startup Factory in May as a program manager to help lead the ISU Startup Factory and G2M (Go To Market) Accelerator. Previously, Kirkendall was the Lead Operations Associate with Techstars Iowa.
  • The Startup Factory will be holding two info sessions about the program next week—one on June 30 and one on July 1.

The descriptions of the companies listed above have been provided by ISU Startup Factory.

ISU Startup Factory announces its tenth cohort | 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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