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Middle Bit: Continuum Ag wins Cisco Global Challenge Award

Continuum Ag has been announced as one of the winners of the fifth annual Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge. The Challenge is an online competition that awards cash prizes to early-stage tech entrepreneurs solving the world’s most challenging problems.

This year Cisco awarded $1 million to social entrepreneurs around the world who have technology innovations that are solving the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems.

Continuum Ag works with farmers and recommends new practices to sequester carbon in agricultural soil, helping farmers modify the way they tend the land to increase overall soil health and facilitating a profitable transition to regenerative agriculture. The company was one of the fourth place winners and was awarded $10,000.

The competition received more than 1,700 team submissions from 126 countries this year, and narrowed them down to just 20 winning teams.

APPLICATIONS OPEN for Iowa Startup Accelerator

Applications are now open for the Fall 2021 cohort of the Iowa Startup Accelerator (ISA).

The Iowa Startup Accelerator is an intensive 14-week program that matches Iowa-based startups with seed funding, mentors, and product development expertise to accelerate their businesses. Startups must be located in Iowa, and founders are expected to work on the business full-time.

The fall cohort will begin September 13.

Submit A Nomination for the Prometheus Awards

The nomination period is now open for the 2021 Prometheus Awards through Friday, August 13.

The Prometheus Awards acknowledge individuals and companies impacting Iowa’s technology industry. Finalists and award winners epitomize great talent, solidifying Iowa’s reputation as a technology state.

“We are beyond thrilled to celebrate the Prometheus Awards in person this year. The Iowa technology industry and information technology professionals have propelled Iowa companies with technology solutions during the pandemic. It’s time to honor that work and those individuals and I encourage you to submit a nomination to recognize the strides we’ve made in the Iowa tech industry,” said Brian Waller, President of TAI.

The nomination period is now open through Friday, August 13. To submit a nomination, or buy tickets, visit the Prometheus Awards event page. Finalists will be announced in early September, and winners will be recognized at the Prometheus Awards Presented by LWBJ on Thursday, November 4, 2021.

Middle Bit: Continuum Ag wins Cisco Global Challenge Award | 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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