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IEDA awards funding to five Iowa startups

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board has approved funding for five Iowa startups. In total the five startups received $300,000 in funding.

Here are the five startups that received funding.

FBB Biomed

FBB Biomed, doing business in Coralville, is a biotech company with a mission to expand the reimbursable diagnostics market to brain diseases. The company plans to demonstrate the performance of its prototype in a laboratory setting on patients with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

The company was awarded a $125,000 Demonstration Fund loan for additional testing and hiring of key personnel.

 Harvest Increase Agriculture

Riverside-based Harvest Increase Agriculture develops a series of fertilizer additives, called SUPRGrow, to increase corn yields. They continue to investigate the chemical and physical properties of the fertilizer, application rates to achieve the most effective results, and the application itself to save farmers time and money without having the need to make an extra pass over their fields.

The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for product refinement.


Des Moines’ Dhakai is a clothing sourcing marketplace that connects small to midsize fashion brands and retailers directly to compliant and verified apparel manufacturers. The technology platform allows buyers to find the perfect fit with regard to materials used, minimum quantity requirements, and sustainability and social welfare practices, which removes the often-inefficient middlemen and significantly saves costs.

The company was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan for product refinement, market planning and entry activities, key personnel, and equipment.


Bristola, based in Waukee, is a renewable energy technology services company. Their patent-pending anaerobic digester technology, known as the Submersible Robotic Cleaning System (SRCS), allows the cleaning and inspection of tanks and covered lagoons. The SRCS does not require a disruption in operations nor human entry, providing an efficient and cost-effective solution that improves the overall operation and offers significant environmental benefits.

The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for product refinement.


Headquartered in Wayland, ChopLocal provides an alternative meat supply chain through an online marketplace that connects consumers to butcher shops, meat processors and farmers. With more consumers purchasing meat online, it is hard for the smaller operations to provide that benefit, so the ChopLocal platform offers those suppliers with easy access to create an online storefront, manage orders and organize information.

The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for IP development and evaluation and market analysis.

IEDA awards funding to five Iowa startups | 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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