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Middle Bit: Nebullam to begin delivering in Cedar Rapids
Each Friday, Clay & Milk curates a rundown of startup, tech and innovation news from around the state in a post known as the "Middle Bit." Indoor farming startup Nebullam is bringing its services to Cedar Rapids, reports the Corridor Business Journal. Nebullam was founded in 2017, with a focus on improving indoor farming technologies.…
Middle Bit: Jason Gross joins ManchesterStory as Vice President
ManchesterStory Group, a venture capital firm based in Des Moines, announced this week that Jason Gross is joining the company as Vice President and Head of Platform.  “Jason is an award-winning innovation, strategy and technology-adoption leader with experience leading large-scale transformation at three top insurance providers,” said Dave Miles, Founding Partner of ManchesterStory. “Jason’s expertise…
Middle Bit: MākuSafe announces new updates
MākuSafe announced two new updates this week that it says will have a significant impact for customers who need effective contact tracing and for those seeking industry 4.0 automation capabilities. The first of these enhancements is built around MākuSafe’s RāngeView technology, which allows a wearable device on the arm of a worker to detect proximity to other…
Middle Bit: Growers Edge launches ag lending platform
Growers Edge, a provider of data-driven fintech solutions for the agricultural industry, has announced the launch of a fully digital financial software and services platform for the agriculture industry. The customizable platform is built for ag retailers and input manufacturers of any size to process and manage loans quickly and efficiently. Powered by Growers Edge…
Middle Bit: EntreFEST scheduled for June 2022 in Iowa City
EntreFEST will return next year on June 9 and 10.  The two-day conference is designed to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, with professionals at every level coming together to share ideas.  Next year's conference will take place in Iowa City rather than in Cedar Rapids. Those interested in speaking at EntreFEST 2022 can…
Middle Bit: Applications open for 2021 Hawkeye Summer Accelerator
Hawkeye Startup Accelerator has opened applications for its summer 2021 accelerator. During the eleven-week program, the accelerator teams will meet daily to launch their startup using Lean LaunchPad methodologies. Student entrepreneurs will participate in workshops, sessions with experienced mentors, weekly pitches, and lectures throughout the summer program. Founders will be paid a $5,000 living stipend for the…
Middle Bit: PI515 hosting a community Code Jam later this month
Des Moines nonprofit PI515 is hosting a community Code Jam on Friday, Sept. 24 at Gravitate Coworking in Downtown Des Moines. The annual Code Jam is an opportunity for members of the technology community to gather, code together and support PI515. Teams are encouraged to work on their current work projects, or other initiatives the…
Middle Bit: NewBoCo announces changes in leadership
NewBoCo announced a change in leadership this week, as Eric Engelmann will step down from his role as Executive Director to focus exclusively on ISA Ventures, a $15 million venture fund that will invest in Iowa businesses. His role will be filled by Aaron Horn, who currently serves as NewBoCo’s Chief Operating Officer. Horn joined…
Middle Bit: Continuum Ag wins Cisco Global Challenge Award
Continuum Ag has been announced as one of the winners of the fifth annual Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge. The Challenge is an online competition that awards cash prizes to early-stage tech entrepreneurs solving the world’s most challenging problems. This year Cisco awarded $1 million to social entrepreneurs around the world who have technology innovations that are solving…
Middle Bit: Dwolla announces Push-to-Debit payout
Dwolla released a new Push-to-Debit payment functionality to its platform this week to allow for fast payouts to a debit card and to give additional flexibility to clients. Companies using Dwolla’s API-based platform can add direct debit payments verified by Finix and settled by MetaBank for disbursements that can be completed within 30 minutes, the…
Middle Bit: ICAD hires first full-time director for Iowa EdTech Collaborative
The Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD) has announced the hiring of Dr. Mark Butland as Director of the Iowa EdTech Collaborative. Butland will lead the execution of the Iowa EdTech Collaborative strategy; connecting ecosystem organizations and companies, enhancing the piloting and demonstration environment for EdTech in Iowa, improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and creating…
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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 mpatane@clayandmilk.com.
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