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IEDA awards $22 million in Manufacturing 4.0 funding 

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) announced last Thursday that $22 million in Manufacturing 4.0 Workforce Innovation grants have been awarded to 46 companies in Iowa.

These grants are geared toward Iowa manufacturers with 76-250 employees across locations investing in Industry 4.0 technologies to address workforce issues exacerbated by the negative impacts of COVID-19. Recipients received up to $500,000 in grant funding and a minimum match of 25% was required.

An additional $1.9 million in Technology Investment grants was awarded to 37 companies with 3-75 employees for projects that encompass the adoption and integration of smart technologies. These smaller companies received grants of up to $75,000 and a minimum match of 1:1 was required. 

Iowa’s Manufacturing 4.0 plan, a roadmap to help Iowa manufacturers “remain globally competitive through a fourth industrial revolution” that emphasizes automation and smart technology, was launched in February 2021. 

I2TECH, a leading custom plastics injection molder and supplier of contract manufacturing services based in West Des Moines, will be using their $500,000 in grant funds to purchase robots to install on their presses. As a result of COVID-19, I2TECH clients’ demand increased when many other molders closed their doors. At the same time, the labor pool decreased, and the company found it difficult to meet customer needs. The robots will eliminate repetitive tasks, elevate their employees’ skills, and make it easier to accept new and complex projects.   

FRM Socks, a leading domestic producer of superior quality socks located in Osage will be using their $340,000 in grant funds to replace an outdated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system with a more capable, modern, cloud-based ERP. This will allow the company to automate the flow of data throughout the entire value chain, improving interactions with suppliers and customers. The impacts of COVID-19 catalyzed the need to prioritize this upgrade. 

A full list of the Manufacturing 4.0 Workforce Innovation grant recipients can be found here. A list of the Manufacturing 4.0 Technology Investment grant recipients can be found here

IEDA is still accepting applications for the Manufacturing 4.0 Technology Investment program grants for smaller manufacturers (3-75 employees).

Previous coverage

Industry 4.0 Deep Dive Panel explores the future of manufacturing in Iowa

Governor Reynolds, IEDA announce manufacturing roadmap for Iowa

IEDA awards $22 million in Manufacturing 4.0 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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