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Iowa Business Accelerator Looks To Give Ag Technology Companies A Boost

Cultivating innovation. It’s the cornerstone of a new Iowa startup business initiative. The Ag Tech Accelerator is designed to build on one of the state’s key industries - agriculture - and the entrepreneurial activity that can advance technology in that area.

“This initiative is an example of central Iowa celebrating its agricultural roots and leveraging that key industry into further global economic growth,” says Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “Our state is at the top in so many areas in terms of agriculture, and the Accelerator will help ensure that we are a world leader for years to come.”

Formed by the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Cultivation Corridor, four investors – DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company, John Deere, and Peoples Company – have signed on to support the startup. Each investor has committed to support the Accelerator in the amount of $100,000 for the first year. 

The program aligns closely with the goals of Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor. Through the work of many community partners, the Cultivation Corridor has further established central Iowa as a destination for agbioscience, agritechnology, biorenewables, plant sciences, and advanced manufacturing since its launch in 2014.

“The Ag Tech Accelerator will assist with the Cultivation Corridor’s mission to support and sustain the science that feeds the world," says Kathryn Kunert, vice president of economic connections and integration at MidAmerican Energy Company and Cultivation Corridor officer. “The Cultivation Corridor relies on support from central Iowa businesses, and I am pleased that key collaborators DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company, John Deere, and Peoples Company have committed to support the Ag Tech Accelerator.”

The four investors are leaders in the ag industry regionally, nationally, and globally. 

“DuPont Pioneer strives to be on the cutting edge of farmer needs, anticipating challenges with innovative, sustainable solutions,” says Jeff Rowe, vice president of strategic services and planning at DuPont Pioneer. “We are excited to work with talented individuals of varying backgrounds and approaches to foster new ideas and technologies that will benefit growers.”

“As a company that began in Iowa over 123 years ago and is committed to remaining headquartered here, we feel that investing in startups and promoting agricultural innovation puts Iowa in the national spotlight and benefits a broad range of ag-related businesses throughout the state and region,” says Ron Rutledge, president and CEO at Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company. “We have long supported innovation in the industry, and we are proud to be one of the founding members of the Ag Tech Accelerator.”

“John Deere has long been dedicated to those who are linked to the land, and is always ready to embrace change that leads to new opportunities,” says Cory Reed, senior vice president of John Deere's Intelligent Solutions group. “Being able to support the continuing progress in the field of precision ag is important both here in Iowa, as well as around the world.” 

“Peoples Company believes strongly in the benefits of investing in new startups that will improve yields, sustain our environment, and feed the world,” said Steve Bruere, president of Peoples Company. “We are hopeful that startups of today will help producers solve problems for years to come.” 

The Accelerator plans to form a board, hire a managing director in the coming months, and launch its first class in 2017. The program will be limited to six participants per session. Further details, including how to apply, will be released in the near future.

If you’re interested in becoming a part of the Accelerator, there is an opportunity for four more companies to invest. Contact Mike Colwell, executive director of entrepreneurial initiatives at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, at 515/259-0308 or mike@squareonedsm.com.

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