Connecting Global Scaleups with Iowa Leaders
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Connecting global scaleups with Iowa leaders

Leadership insights from Billi Hunt, Executive Director of America’s Cultivation Corridor

It is graduation season! In addition to high school and college graduations across the state, America’s Cultivation Corridor celebrated the “graduation” of our fourth cohort of Cultivo Virtual Academy® in May. 

Seven scaleup companies from Canada and Australia completed the six week virtual program, which featured weekly sessions designed to speed up planned U.S. market entry for the companies. 

Throughout the program, participants heard from more than 30 Iowa business, government, research and agriculture leaders. In the final session alone, they connected with founders of three Iowa-based startups: PowerPollen, Gross-Wen Technologies and AgriSync (acquired by John Deere in 2021); as well as David Spalding, Dean, Iowa State University Ivy College of Business; Dr. Daniel Robison, Dean, Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Allison Doyle, associate director, ISU Research Park; Kevin Rasmussen, chair, America’s Cultivation Corridor, and recieved a message from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. We were also honored to have Hon. Emma Buckham, deputy consul-general, Australia, and Hon. Carl Pilon, senior trade commissioner, Canada, join the conversations.

In short, the programming is working! In soliciting feedback from this cohort of participants, we heard several takeaways from their perspective as scaleups entering the U.S.

  • Consider more than just the end customer when building out a U.S. business plan. Knowing the stakeholders and entire network required to reach the target audience is critical.
  • Take time to understand the complexities of U.S. tax, intellectual property, financing and other systems as part of the business plan and find the right set of advisors to help you navigate the market.
  • Connections are key. Whether it is identifying research or business development resources, looking for distribution or marketing partners or reaching potential customers, success starts with a robust network of connections.

Most important, participants had a firsthand look at the network and resources that are in place in Iowa for scaleups to establish a business and bring their innovations to market. From tax and IP professionals to employment law and financing, they had the opportunity to go directly to experts with their questions. 

Cultivo is unique because it meets scaleup organizations where they are and provides the connections and insights tailored to their needs and business focus. I look forward to seeing the progress that cohort members make toward their business goals and welcoming them to Iowa inthe future

Finally, the most valuable part of Cultivo Virtual Academy is the willingness of leaders, farmers, researchers, entrepreneurs and other leaders to take time for conversations with cohort members. Thank you to cohort sponsors — Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa State University Economic Development and Industry Relations, BioConnect Iowa and Beck’s Hybrids — as well as all the session speakers who help make Cultivo a success.

To learn more about the program and future cohort opportunities, visit our website

Published May 2024.

Corridor News