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Four Iowa startups receive IEDA funding

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has approved innovation funding in support of four Iowa startups. Here are the startups that received funding.


Ames-based Providence Data Technologies, doing business as Distynct, provides an internet-based remote monitoring and alarm platform for livestock facilities, which allows producers to optimize personnel by directing them to the most significant problems of the day. This solution helps avoid catastrophic events on farms, ultimately improving performance and mitigating brand risk.

The company was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan for IP development and evaluation, proof of concept work, product refinement, key personnel, equipment, and construction.

Sublime Stericeuticals Corporation

Headquartered in Ames, Sublime Stericeuticals Corporation delivers an efficient and consistent pharmaceutical lyophilization process. The approach to produce freeze-dried drug products offer time and cost efficiencies, as well as a high-quality result due to the closed, sterile environment with their patented Cryophilizer system technology.

The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for proof of concept work, product refinement, market planning and entry activities, and equipment.

Firefly Photonics

Coralville’s Firefly Photonics develops infrared light-emitting diode (LED) and photodiode (PD) components, which are used in methane and carbon dioxide gas sensing. The light sources are critical to the success of wireless, battery-powered gas sensors, solving problems with power consumption, turn-on time and maintenance.

The company was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan for product refinement.


A global provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications in Des Moines, Pitchly offers customers the ability to access, search, edit and share data to fellow employees and connect the data to common work tasks. The software provides significant savings in employee time by automatically updating data to the current version.

The company was awarded an Innovation Acceleration Propel Fund loan for product refinement, market planning and entry activities, and key personnel.

Previous coverage

IEDA awards funding to four Iowa startups

IEDA awards funding to three startups

Four Iowa startups receive IEDA funding | 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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