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Pi515 receives $35,000 donation from StartupCity
Des Moines nonprofit Pi515 has received a $35,000 donation from now-closed StartupCity Des Moines to help fund the SMART Cities Summer Challenge. StartupCity Des Moines formed in 2011 as an incubator and coworking space and closed in Sept. 2014. It was a public-private joint effort focused on growing the Des Moines startup community and is viewed by many…
Iowa State launches first AI graduate program in the state
Starting this fall, Iowa State University will offer a new two-year Master of Science degree program in artificial intelligence administered through the computer science department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Iowa State’s AI program will target graduate-level students who are interested in learning basic AI and machine-learning techniques. The curriculum will consist…
Pi515 receives $100,000 donation from John Pappajohn, partners with entrepreneurial centers throughout Iowa
Des Moines nonprofit Pi515 has received a $100,000 donation from entrepreneur and philanthropist John Pappajohn to help grow and expand the program. Founded in 2014 by Nancy Mwirotsi, Pi515 is a Des Moines-based nonprofit organization that empowers disadvantaged youth to succeed by teaching them technology skills. Along with the donation, Pi 515 will partner with…
Iowa State University
ISU listed among top patent producers in 2019
For the third straight year Iowa State University has been listed among the top 100 worldwide universities to be granted patents during a calendar year. The Iowa State University Research Foundation, Inc. — which processes and holds patents tied to Iowa State research — tied for No. 77 on the 2019 list. Iowa State tied…
Iowa Innovation Challenge awards $81,000 to UI startups
The first phase of the University of Iowa's (UI) new Iowa Innovation Challenge took place earlier this week and awarded a total of $81,000 to 27 different startups. The three-day competition was split into two different sections—one for undergraduate students and an other for UI graduate students, faculty and staff. In total, 65 different UI…
Future Ready Iowa awards $6.6 million in scholarships
More than 5,800 Iowa students have received the new Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship for fall 2019. More than $6.6 million has been awarded for the fall semester. That’s over half of the $13 million appropriated by the Iowa Legislature for the 2019-20 academic year. This is the first semester the Last-Dollar Scholarship has…
Education Archives | Page 2 of 4 | 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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