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Newly formed Ames company will bring autonomy to ag industry

Two agricultural technology companies—Redshield Electronics in Ely, Iowa and LSA Autonomy in Maryland—have merged to create MACH, a company seeking to convert farm equipment into self-driving vehicles.

MACH, located in the Iowa State University Research Park in Ames, will work with equipment manufacturers to convert tractors and other farming and off-highway equipment into autonomous equipment for farmers.

The two companies involved in the merger both have expertise in different parts of the self-driving vehicle industry. Iowa-based Redshield Electronics worked primarily in the agricultural sector, while Maryland-based LSA Autonomy, LSA was originally established to address autonomy needs across multiple U.S. government sectors, working with clients like the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy.

Colin Hurd will serve as CEO of the newly formed company. Prior to joining MACH, Hurd was the founder and CEO of Smart Ag, a driverless tractor company that was acquired by Raven Industries in late 2019. Raven was then acquired by CNH Industrial in 2021. Hurd stayed with Raven and managed Business Development until earlier this year.

Redshield Electronics was founded and led by Rhett Schildroth, who will stay on at MACH as chief technology officer.

The two companies disclosed the merger to form MACH last month and had been in discussions about merging for over a year. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Previous coverage

Smart Ag acquired by Raven Industries

Iowa Agtech: ‘Building the right connections between the right people at the right time’

Newly formed Ames company will bring autonomy to ag industry | 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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