New Business Accelerator Boosts AgTech Companies

Innovation, News, Startups | 08/30/2016

Sophia S. Ahmad
(515) 286-4919

Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016


The accelerator will spur growth in Central Iowa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by focusing on companies in the key industry of agriculture.

GREATER DES MOINES, IA — Four investors have signed on to support a new startup business accelerator that will further establish Central Iowa’s reputation as a global leader in cutting-edge agriculture technology. The Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Cultivation Corridor announced today that they would form an Ag-Tech Startup Accelerator (The Accelerator) with the support of investors DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company, John Deere, and Peoples Company. Each investor company has committed to supporting the Accelerator in the amount of $100,000 for the first year. The 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.

The Accelerator will be modeled after the Global Insurance Accelerator, which The Partnership launched in 2014. The Global Insurance Accelerator has graduated two classes of six startup companies that are advancing technology in the insurance industry. The Ag Tech Startup Accelerator will bring that same level of focus to another key industry.

“Today’s announcement is an example of Central Iowa celebrating its agricultural roots and leveraging that key industry into further global economic growth,” said 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.”

The Accelerator 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 ag bioscience, agrotechnology, biorenewables, plant sciences, and advanced manufacturing since its launch in 2014.

“The Ag Tech Startup Accelerator will assist with the Cultivation Corridor’s mission to support and sustain the science that feeds the world,” said 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 Startup Accelerator.”

The four investors that have signed on to the Accelerator are leaders in the ag industry regionally, nationally, and globally. Their companies will benefit from supporting this groundbreaking initiative.

“DuPont Pioneer strives to be on the cutting edge of farmer needs, anticipating challenges with innovative, sustainable solutions,” said 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,” said 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 Startup 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,” said 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 house its first class in 2017. There also is an opportunity for four more investors to become involved with The Accelerator. Companies that are interested in investing in The Accelerator should contact Mike Colwell, Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, at (515) 259-0308 or at mike@squareonedsm.com.

About the Greater Des Moines Partnership, The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Central Iowa. Together with 22 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce and 5,800 regional business members, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission, and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning, and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunities, creates jobs, and promotes Greater Des Moines as the best place to build a business, a career, and a future. Visit DesMoinesMetro.com for more information.  

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.