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ISU Pappajohn Center wins Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award

 The Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) announced Iowa State University Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship as the winner of the 2022 Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, the highest honor presented during the 2022 GCEC Awards.

The announcement was made on October 29 as part of the GCEC annual conference held in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

The Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award has traditionally recognized a single program each year but was expanded in 2021 to recognize the best from a university with less than 5,000 students and the best from one with more than 5,000. This year’s winners included Babson College, The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship (less than 5,000 students), and Iowa State University, the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship (more than 5,000 students).

“Although this is an entrepreneurship center award, everyone at Iowa State University should celebrate this recognition,” said Judi Eyles, Director of the Pappajohn Center in a press release. Our cross-campus, comprehensive programs to educate and support entrepreneurs of all kinds are truly unique. Those who have worked previously at the Pappajohn Center and the dynamic and hard-working team here today helped us to achieve this significant award. We are honored and delighted.”

Iowa State was also recognized as a finalist for the Exceptional Activities in Entrepreneurship Across Disciplines Award.

ISU Pappajohn Center wins Nasdaq Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Award | 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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