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Middle Bit: PI515 hosting a community Code Jam later this month

Des Moines nonprofit PI515 is hosting a community Code Jam on Friday, Sept. 24 at Gravitate Coworking in Downtown Des Moines.

The annual Code Jam is an opportunity for members of the technology community to gather, code together and support PI515. Teams are encouraged to work on their current work projects, or other initiatives the team wishes to explore. Individuals are welcome to work on personal projects as well.

Tickets for the event are $25.

LenderClose expands its office space in West Des Moines

Real estate and home equity lending technology company LenderClose announced this week that it has doubled its workspace square footage at its headquarters in West Des Moines in order to accommodate current and future growth.

The expansion will add an additional 12,000 square feet of floor space to the existing office, which will result in a 24,000-square-foot new workspace. Forty new workstations will be added initially, and the office’s capacity will increase from 64 to 90 individuals.

“LenderClose has seen significant growth, both in the number of clients we serve and in our internal team, since we were founded in 2015,” said Allen Jingst, chief revenue officer for LenderClose in a release. “From two staff members in a shared workspace to now, we have relentlessly executed our plan for physical expansion as well as the expansion of our platform offerings and client relationships.”

ISU announces fall lineup for Flagship Friday program

Iowa State students will again have the chance to hear moderated conversations with innovators and leaders across industries as the Flagship Friday program returns this fall.

The Flagship Friday program started virtually last year and attracted 2,400 participants, according to Iowa State Daily. This fall’s Flagship Friday sessions will still take place online, but some will also take place in person at the Student Innovation Center.

A total of 12 sessions have been scheduled for each Friday throughout the Fall semester.

Middle Bit: PI515 hosting a community Code Jam later this month | 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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