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Applications open for third cohort of Cultivo Virtual Academy

America’s Cultivation Corridor has opened applications for the third cohort of the Cultivo Virtual Academy. The six-week virtual program will provide selected participants with interaction with Iowa’s agricultural leaders and an online curriculum focused on U.S. market entry, regulatory and financing systems, and customer perspectives.

Applications for the program are now being accepted through February 1, 2022. Selected applicants will be notified by March 1, and the cohort sessions will begin March 22 and run weekly through April 26. All sessions will be facilitated by Iowa business and university leaders. Upon completion of the virtual program, cohort participants will be eligible to attend an in-person Cultivo event in Des Moines, currently slated for late 2022.

“The next generation of ag innovations are being developed in Iowa right now, and we look forward to the networks and new opportunities that will be built when global entrepreneurs connect with our strong network of university researchers, industry leaders, startup companies and forward-thinking farmers and livestock producers,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority in a statement. “The Cultivo program will provide unequaled access to the best and brightest minds in every sector of Iowa’s agricultural community and help entrepreneurs build the network they need to reach their goals.”

America’s Cultivation Corridor will host and coordinate the Cultivo Virtual Academy in partnership with its investors and supporting organizations.

“The inaugural cohort of Cultivo Virtual Academy was a tremendous success, with six startups making invaluable connections with Iowa business leaders, researchers, farmers and more, as they develop their technologies and prepare for a launch in the U.S. marketplace, ” said Judd O’Connor, Chairman of the Cultivation Corridor Board of Directors.

Previous coverage

Cultivo Virtual Academy announces 6 startups in second cohort

Applications open for third cohort of Cultivo Virtual Academy | 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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