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Six Iowa startups receive IEDA funding

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has approved innovation funding in support of six Iowa startups. In total, the six companies received $675,000 in funding.

Here are the startups that received funding.


Axis-U of Ankeny developed an online pre-apprenticeship training platform that helps Iowa employers connect to job seekers. After starting with the healthcare industry, the company is now committed to serving manufacturing companies with their CAD, CNC and welding apprenticeship programs. The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for market analysis, product refinement, key personnel and equipment.

Learning Couture

Bettendorf’s Learning Couture created a web-based Customizing Learning Platform that supports professional learning for teachers. It engages teachers in self-reflection and growth, allowing for teachers and leaders to monitor growth patterns over time in both teacher practices and student outcomes. The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for IP development and evaluation, market analysis, proof of concept work, product refinement, and marketing planning and entry activities.


Clive-based Groov is a software as a service (SaaS) company for residential land developers that organizes all land development data in one place. The company was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan for market analysis and key personnel.


ProCircular, doing business in Coralville, is a cybersecurity and compliance firm that is launching an interactive, virtual version of their table-top cybersecurity escape room game. The company was awarded a $250,000 Innovation Acceleration Propel Fund loan for IP development and evaluation, market and competitive analysis, proof of concept work, product refinement, market planning and entry activities, and key personnel.

Aronson Woodworks

Located in Prole, Aronson Woodworks is an artisanal, craft furniture manufacturer that utilizes recycled lumber from diseased ash trees to create hand-crafted furniture specializing in the application of the patented ClaizeTM finish. The company was awarded a $250,000 Innovation Acceleration Propel Fund loan for key personnel and equipment.

Hellcat Technologies

Hellcat Technologies in Tabor developed the Hellcat Office Command and Hellcat Field Command applications to optimize management efficiencies and data accuracy by digitizing paperwork and communications in the office and field. The integrated, cloud-based software platform allows for all levels of the telecom construction industry to seamlessly manage projects in real-time. The company was awarded a $25,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for product refinement and market planning and entry activities.

Six 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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