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Iowa Energy Center awards $1 million in energy grants

The Iowa Energy Center (IEC) announced $1,051,872 in grants to four projects at last week’s board meeting.

“Iowa is fortunate to have diverse energy resources, innovative companies and academic institutions, and a collaborative spirit,” said Debi Durham, director of the IEDA and the Iowa Finance Authority. “Today, the Iowa Energy Center supported projects that are diverse, innovative and with public-private collaborations which will benefit our state’s energy economy going forward.”

The grant program received 51 pre-applications, totaling more than $14 million in funding requests. Eleven of the applicants proceeded to complete the full application with requests totaling over $3 million.

The board also approved an Energy Infrastructure Revolving Loan for $193,000 to Accu-Steel in Audubon. The company plans to integrate thin solar panels into a fabric prototype building for research and demonstration purposes. They currently manufacture fabric covered buildings for customers like beef cattle producers.

IEC Grant Awards

Organization: Iowa State University
Project Name: Recycling of Used and End-of-Life Li-Ion Batteries to Extract Lithium, Anode, and Cathode Materials
Grant Award: $347,530

Organization: Iowa State University
Project Name: Mining Smart Meter Data for Modeling and Mitigating EV Charging Impacts on Distribution Grids
Grant Award: $203,342

Organization: Legov Systems Group
Project Name: Continuous Thermal to Electrical Energy Harvesting from Industrial and Residential Waste Heat
Grant Award: $301,000

Organization: Iowa State University
Project Name: Laser Surface Engineering of Natural Gas Pipelines for Extended Service Life
Grant Award: $200,000

Iowa Energy Center awards $1 million in energy grants | 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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