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New dashboard will track and measure key metrics in Iowa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

Clay & Milk and the Greater Des Moines Partnership are partnering to develop the Iowa Innovation Dashboard, a comprehensive indicator of entrepreneurial activity in the state of Iowa.

The dashboard will compile several key metrics of entrepreneurial information into one location to capture the pulse of Iowa’s entrepreneurial and startup climate. The dashboard will track several different metrics including startup growth, external funding, the success of accelerator programs, patents filed, team diversity, perceptions of Iowa’s startup community, and more. The Partnership and Clay & Milk will update the dashboard annually, with plans to add new metrics in future years.

By providing statewide data and metrics, the dashboard will allow community leaders and organizations throughout Iowa to make more informed decisions about how to best champion local entrepreneurs, and the ecosystem as a whole.

The dashboard will launch in Spring 2022.

Iowa Founder Survey

Along with the dashboard, Clay & Milk and the Partnership are conducting an in-depth survey of Iowa founders. The Iowa Founder Survey will dive into fundraising climate, working environment, future outlook, and the challenges of operating a startup.

Questions in the survey will go over:

  • General information about your company (location, year founded, industry)
  • Resources in Iowa you’ve used to date (accelerators, incubators, etc.)
  • Fundraising history (venture capital, grants, state funding)
  • Demographic information
  • Perception of Iowa’s startup ecosystem

We’ll use this information in an anonymized fashion to help better understand the companies being founded in our region. Any information shared will have no identifiable or confidential information included. We will use this survey as a baseline to track changes to the ecosystem over time.

The survey is now open and will close on Friday, Feb. 18. All participants of the survey will be entered to win a $500 cash prize.

If you’re an Iowa-based organization that serves or connects startup founders and you would like to share the survey with your community, you can share info about this survey and project using our Dashboard Sharing Kit.

New dashboard will track and measure key metrics in Iowa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem | 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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