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Iowa AgriTech Accelerator Announces Class of 2018

The second annual Iowa AgriTech Accelerator has chosen five start-up companies to participate in its 2018 program. These innovators will spend 100 days in Des Moines, Iowa, working with mentors in the AgTech industry who will help them with their business plan and making contacts that could help with funding, distribution, etc. They will also receive $40,000 in funding from the program’s sponsors.

“The Accelerator’s board goes through each application to see if it is complete, is a valid idea, and is related to the AgTech industry,” says Megan Vollstedt, executive director for The Accelerator. “Once we conduct video interviews with the companies, the investors and the board make the final decision.” 

The Accelerator was launched in 2016 by the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Cultivation Corridor. Focused on ag tech start-up companies, it is designed to build upon one of the state’s key industries – agriculture – and the entrepreneurial activity that can advance technology in the industry.

The five start-ups selected by The Accelerator’s board and investors were chosen from a pool of over 30 applicants. This year’s investors are Farmers Mutual Hail, Grinnell Mutual, John Deere, Kent Corporation, People’s Company, Du Pont Pioneer, and Sukup. 

Accelerator mentor Sheldon Ohringer has been happy to help with this process for both years of operation. Ohringer is a partner at Formation Partners in Iowa. 

“I like to help the start-ups prepare for their meetings with the program’s mentors,” says Ohringer. “I work on their pitches with them so they can get the most out of their time.”

Here are the five start-ups participating in this year’s cohort:

U.S. Design Consultants (Osceola, IA)
Founded by Norm Robbins, U.S. Design Consultants has developed a way to broadcast seed from a helicopter that is faster and more accurate than traditional methods. 
 
AgHelp (Grand Rapids, MI)
Brothers Sadoc, Ivan, and Feliciano Paredes have created a web platform that connects low income farmworkers directly with employers and support agencies.

Birdpreneur (Abeokuta, Nigeria)
Focusing on small-scale Nigerian poultry farmers, founder Michael Iyanro is using investor funds to give farmers access to farm supplies and mentor services, and to improve farm productivity. 

Vaksea (Baltimore, MD)
Ken Malone, Mihir Pershad, and Vik Vakharia have each used their unique skil sets to develop an oral vaccine for aquaculture in the form of a feed pellet, eliminating the need for expensive and labor-intensive precision injections.

Krobel Corp (Mankato, MN)
Founders Kenny Strobel and Ryan Kruse want to decrease hog mortality rates by creating a sensor that tracks a hog’s respiratory rate and alerts farmers when the animal may be sick. 

This class will graduate in October 2018. The ceremony will be held during the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, with hundreds of global industry and academic thought leaders in attendance. 

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