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2021 Prometheus Awards Winners

Technology and business leaders from around the state gathered at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines last night to celebrate the 2021 Prometheus Awards.

Fifteen awards were given out to Iowa companies, communities, and organizations in the state that have made significant growth and achievements over the last year.

Brian Waller, President of the Technology Association of Iowa, announced that next year’s awards will add a new category — “Computer Science Teacher of the Year.”

“We want computer science education to be part of the core curriculum in the state of Iowa so we need to honor these teachers,” said Waller. “TAI is saying today we’re going to pledge $10,000, to an Iowa teacher next year who wins this award. We’re not going to just give him or her hardware, but we’re going to pay in dollars so it incentivizes other teachers in this state to teach computer science education.”

Here are the 2021 Prometheus Awards winners:

  • Startup of the Year: OpenLoop
  • Emerging Technology Leader of the Year: Jessica Bertling, UI/UX Developer at NewBoCo
  • IT Service Provider Technology Company of the Year: Circle Computer Resources
  • Software Development Technology Company of the Year: Hy-Vee
  • AgTech & BioTech Company of the Year: Tractor Zoom
  • Manufacturing Technology Company of the Year: Kreg Tool
  • FinTech & InsurTech Company of the Year: MākuSafe
  • Creative Technology Solution of the Year: HyVee
  • Best Technology Company Culture: EMC Insurance
  • Technology Community of the Year: Council Bluffs
  • CEO of the Year: Randy Edeker, CEO at HyVee.
  • CIO/CTO/CISO of the Year: Levon Hooks, CIO at Kum & Go
  • LWBJ Impact Award: Ag Startup Engine
  • Technology Company of the Year – Small/Medium Award: Growers Edge
  • Workiva Large Technology Company of the Year Award: EMC Insurance
2021 Prometheus Awards Winners | 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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