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More Companies Sign On To Invest In Iowa AgriTech Accelerator To Drive Innovation

March 6, 2017

GREATER DES MOINES, IA — The Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Cultivation Corridor today announced the name of an accelerator focused on agtech 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 Corporation and Sukup Manufacturing have signed on as investing companies to The Accelerator. They join DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company, John Deere and Peoples Company for a total of seven investing companies.

Tej Dhawan will serve as the interim director. Dhawan is an entrepreneur and leader in the Greater Des Moines startup community. He served as interim director of the Global Insurance Accelerator and serves on its board.

The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator is designed to build upon one of the state’s key industries of agriculture and the entrepreneurial activity that can advance technology in the industry.

“Central Iowa’s agriculture industry has a history of innovation,” said Dhawan. “The Accelerator will advance innovation by connecting many of the leading agriculture businesses and farm groups in our region to startups working with cutting-edge technology.”

Each investing company has committed to support The Accelerator in the amount of $100,000 for the first year. Their companies will benefit from supporting this groundbreaking initiative as they will be connected to startups that can help them find creative solutions in their business and help the agriculture industry in the Cultivation Corridor.

“Grinnell Mutual has provided insurance protection for farmers and the ag industry for more than a century, and continues 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,” said Larry Jansen, Grinnell Mutual’s president and CEO. “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 Corporation is proud to be part of the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator,” said Gage A. Kent, CEO & Chairman at Kent Corporation. “We look forward to working with innovative companies that will actively help Iowa farmers feed the world.”

“Sukup Manufacturing is excited to work with agtech companies from around the world that will be part of The Accelerator,” said Steve Sukup, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Sukup Manufacturing. “The Accelerator will help the entire region as it will allow agriculture companies be more effective with access to new technology.”

Investing companies will provide mentoring to companies in The 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 Accelerator will open the application process for interested startup companies from April 3 through May 12. Companies interested in applying should contact Dhawan at tej.dhawan@agiowa.com. The first class of The Accelerator will begin on July 10 and end on Oct. 20. The class will graduate at the 2017 World Food Prize 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,” said 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.” 

About the Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,100 Regional Business Members and more than 330 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.

About the Cultivation Corridor

Focused on further developing and marketing the world-renowned bioeconomy in Central Iowa, Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor is building on a rich history of innovation to accelerate value-added agriculture business development by attracting companies, talent and capital from across the globe to the state. Representing a diverse public-private coalition of stakeholders including the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Ames Chamber of Commerce, Iowa State University, non-profits 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.