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Four Iowa startups receive IEDA funding

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has awarded funding to four Iowa startups. In total, $350,000 was awarded to the startups. Here are the startups that received funding.


With a focus on apprenticeship opportunities, AxisU of Ankeny connects pre-qualified candidates to local trades-based employers. The platform also provides ongoing apprenticeship training that, when combined with on-the-job training, is recognized with a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The company was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan for product refinement, market planning and entry activities, and key personnel.

Enceinte Health

Ankeny-based Enceinte Health Inc. developed a smart commode to understand an individual’s health and wellness behavior within their home. The monitoring technology offers a more efficient and effective method of identifying potential health issues or preventative care opportunities.

The company was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan for proof of concept work, product refinement, market planning and entry activities, key personnel and equipment.


MetaFuel, based in Des Moines, created a system to help truck fleets manage fuel tax compliance. The technology provides assurance through data visibility and unlimited cloud storage for fuel records and seamless integration with a truck’s existing telematics hardware.

The company was awarded a $50,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan for product refinement and market planning and entry activities.

Shaka Culture

Headquartered in Hiawatha, Shaka Culture provides software that addresses team morale in remote or hybrid work environments. A subscription offers companies access to virtual culture programs with the goal of improving employee retention and recruiting costs.

The company was awarded a $100,000 Demonstration Fund loan for market planning and entry activities and key personnel.

Four 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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