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Cultivo Virtual Academy Offers International Ag Startups US Market Entry Classes Based in Iowa

International Innovators Grow Ag in Iowa

December 21, 2021

World class researchers, global industry leaders, innovative startups and forward-thinking farmers and livestock producers make Iowa the place to be for anyone starting or a growing an agriculture or bioscience business. If you have an idea to improve the productivity, efficiency or sustainability for any step in the food chain, the resources to bring that idea to the market exist here in Iowa.

However, even with the most novel technology or compelling value proposition, many international entrepreneurs find it overwhelming to navigate the regulatory, finance, marketing and geographic hurdles involved with bringing their ideas to the U.S. marketplace.

About the Cultivo™ Virtual Academy

America’s Cultivation Corridor is working to fill this void for global innovators with the launch of Cultivo Virtual Academy. The tuition-based, six-week program was launched in 2021 to deliver a robust curriculum and connect cohort members with business leaders, researchers, farmers and other resources in Iowa.

“Iowa is the perfect place to host a program like Cultivo,” said Doug Moore, Iowa business leader and entrepreneur-in-residence for the first two Cultivo cohorts. “There is no other place in the country where all the major players for crops, livestock, biofuels, equipment, precision ag and predictive technologies are located, as well as the research leadership at Iowa State University and a strong group of services businesses who understand the ag industry.”

Twelve companies from around the world have completed the Cultivo program in the two cohorts we’ve hosted in 2021. Each weekly session was facilitated by Iowa industry leaders as well as legal, finance, regulatory and other experts who provide real-world expertise. Topics included an introduction to the U.S. startup community and its entrepreneurial ecosystem, investment landscape, financial system and regulatory programs; supply chain and workforce considerations; pathways for introducing technologies; and how to connect for partnerships and acquisitions to build a business.

“As a startup, if you need to enter the U.S., you need some of the golden tips that we have gotten from this program,” said Gopal Kumarapuram, co-founder of GramworkX.

One of the biggest challenges for international ag startups is finding the right advisors and partners to help chart the right path in the U.S. marketplace. A key part of the Cultivo program is making connections to the right individuals who can help with their distinct needs, including world class experts at Iowa State University and the ISU Research Park.

“Solely because of this program, I was able to connect with a prominent growers association in Iowa, and I would not have been able to make this connection without the help of the Cultivo program,” said Sumit Verma, Co-Founder of Reazent.

The Cultivo program is helping bridge the market entry gap and bring these innovative international ag startups to Iowa as they plan their U.S. market entry. It is a great way to foster further innovation in the industry which ultimately supports food security and sustainability.

Two cohorts of the Cultivo Virtual Academy are planned for 2022, with applications for Cohort 3 open until Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. An in-person experience in Iowa for all Cultivo graduates is planned for fall 2022.

We appreciate the strong support of Iowa Economic Development Authority as the presenting sponsor, as well as other sponsors and the dozens of Iowa leaders who have facilitated Cultivo sessions and connected with cohort members.

Please reach out to me at tuhlman@cultivationcorridor.org with any questions about Cultivo Virtual Academy.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.

Tracy Uhlman

Tracy Uhlman is senior director of strategy and project management for America's Cultivation Corridor. She brings leadership and management experience from John Deere including field experience, portfolio management and tactical marketing. She earned an MBA from the University of Iowa, and a bachelor of science degree from Washington State University.