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CareSource partners with ISA Ventures to launch investment fund for health startups in Iowa

CareSource, a nonprofit that provides public health care programs, is partnering with ISA Ventures to launch the CareSource Iowa Opportunity Investment Fund.

The new fund will provide capital for Iowa-based startups that seek to improve health care outcomes, promote health equity and generate positive social impact, especially for underserved populations and those with complex care needs.

“CareSource is committed to improving the health of Iowans for the long-term,” said Erhardt Preitauer, president and CEO of CareSource in a press release. “Establishing the CareSource Iowa Opportunity Investment Fund means we can fuel innovation across the state, as we do in our other markets, while amplifying solutions to address the toughest issues our communities face.”

CareSource will initially invest $2 million in the fund, with individual investments of up to $500,000. The fund will syndicate alongside ISA Ventures’ direct investment and other venture funds. 

ISA Ventures will source and vet companies for consideration, complete due diligence and recommendation investments to a committee composed of representatives from CareSource. Investment decisions will be made by CareSource.

“This is a big step forward for Iowa’s startup ecosystem, bringing more resources – not just capital, but also the expertise that a national leader like CareSource has – to entrepreneurs in Iowa,” said Eric Engelmann, ISA Ventures’ general partner. “These investments will create new jobs and opportunities for Iowans, while also making an impact on our state’s vulnerable populations.”

The CareSource Iowa Opportunity Investment Fund is just one of the initiatives CareSource has launched to support the health of Iowans. The CareSource Foundation recently awarded $165,000 to multiple Iowa community-based organizations through a grant challenge.

CareSource partners with ISA Ventures to launch investment fund for health startups in Iowa | 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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