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Iowa AgriTech Accelerator will drive innovationIowa AgriTech Accelerator will drive innovation

More companies sign on to invest in the accelerator, which will graduate its first class this year.

Rod Swoboda 1

March 13, 2017

4 Min Read
PLANTING THE SEED: The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator is a mentor-led effort focused on ag tech innovations. Its purpose is to help entrepreneurs develop and advance their ideas for agriculture-based technology throughout the industry.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Cultivation Corridor on March 6 announced the name of a business accelerator focused on ag technology startup companies: the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator. The accelerator, which was launched in 2016, will host its first class this year.

The partnership and Cultivation Corridor also announced that Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing have signed on as investing companies in the AgriTech Accelerator. They join DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co., John Deere and Peoples Co. for a total of seven investing companies. Each company has committed $100,000 to support the accelerator for the first year.

Focusing on ag tech startup companies, the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator is designed to build upon one of the state’s key industries — agriculture — and the entrepreneurial activity that can advance technology in agriculture.

Tej Dhawan will serve as the interim director. An entrepreneur and leader in the greater Des Moines startup community, he was interim director of the Global Insurance Accelerator and serves on its board. “Central Iowa’s agriculture industry has a history of innovation,” says Dhawan. “The [AgriTech] Accelerator will advance innovation by connecting many of the leading ag businesses and farm groups in our region to startups working with cutting-edge technology.”

What’s the return for money invested?
What will each company get for investing $100,000 for the first year? Dhawan says the firms will benefit from supporting this groundbreaking initiative because they will be connected to startups that can help them find creative solutions in their business. They will also benefit by helping the agriculture industry in the Cultivation Corridor.

“Grinnell Mutual has provided insurance protection for farmers and the ag industry for more than a century. We continue to look for ways to innovate and help our farm customers grow their businesses and remain an integral part of the world’s food supply,” says Larry Jansen, president and chief executive officer of Grinnell Mutual. “We are committed to exploring new technologies that will help our customers continue to thrive and keep pace with the industry. The AgriTech Accelerator offers a great opportunity to be part of those exciting developments.”

Kent Corp. also foresees future benefits that can be provided by the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator. “We are proud to be part of this effort,” says Gage A. Kent, CEO and chairman of Kent Corp. “We look forward to working with innovative companies that will actively help Iowa farmers feed the world.”

Likewise, Steve Sukup, vice president and chief financial officer at Sukup Manufacturing, is a believer. “We are excited to work with ag tech companies from around the world that will be part of the accelerator,” he says. “The accelerator will help the entire region, as it will allow ag companies be more effective with access to new technology.”

Will provide mentors for startups
Investing companies will provide mentoring to the startup companies in The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator. Additionally, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association will provide farmer-mentors to the accelerator. Iowa State University will provide technical and business expertise.

The application period for interested startups to apply to participate in the AgriTech Accelerator will be open from April 3 to May 12. Companies interested in applying should contact Dhawan at [email protected]. The first class will begin July 10 and end Oct. 20. The class will graduate at the 2017 World Food Prize headquarters in downtown Des Moines.

“We are delighted that the graduation of the first class of the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator will take place at our Hall of Laureates as part of World Food Prize week in October,” says Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize. “The accelerator is another prime example of our region working to find innovative solutions in agriculture that feed the world.”

Learn more about the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator at agiowa.com.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that has served central Iowa for more than 125 years. Together with 23 affiliate chambers of commerce and more than 6,000 business members, the partnership drives economic growth and careers through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration. For information, visit desmoinesmetro.com.

Focused on further developing and marketing the world-renowned bioeconomy in central Iowa, Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor is building on a history of innovation to accelerate value-added agriculture business development by attracting companies, talent and capital to the state from across the globe. A diverse public-private coalition of stakeholders including the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Ames Chamber of Commerce, Iowa State University, nonprofits and private sector companies from across the region and state, the Cultivation Corridor is one of the nation’s foremost cluster-based economic development organizations. For more information, visit cultivationcorridor.org.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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