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TAI announces Iowa Technology Leadership Institute, applications now open

The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) has opened applications for the first-ever class of its Iowa Technology Leadership Institute. The Leadership Institute a five-month program designed to provide business and leadership education to employees intending to advance into a leadership position.

The program will provide access to networking with peers and experienced executives from across the industry. Classes will focus on the non-technical aspects of leadership that help seasoned professionals build influence and move to the next level of their careers. The experience will include engaging presentations, interactive panelists, small group problem-solving scenarios, and one-on-one mentoring from experienced technology executives.

Michelle Bates, founder and CEO of SkyPrairie, and Dave Tucker, partner at Next Level Ventures, will serve as technology executives in residence throughout the program, which will host in-person events once a month across the state.

Applications for the Iowa Technology Leadership Institute will be accepted from June 16 through September 3, 2021.  All applicants will be notified of their selection status by early October 2021. The inaugural class will include 25 participants.

Tuition for the Iowa Technology Leadership Institute is $3,000 for TAI members and $3,500 for non-members.

For more information on the institute and how to apply, go to

Other TAI News

The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) has also announced the schedule for its 2021 Roadshow, which will travel to five communities across the state throughout July.

July Roadshow Dates

  • July 26: Sioux City
  • July 27: Fort Dodge
  • July 28: Spencer
  • July 29: Waverly
  • July 30: Decorah
TAI announces Iowa Technology Leadership Institute, applications now open | 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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