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New business accelerator to boost new ag tech companiesNew business accelerator to boost new ag tech companies

John Deere and DuPont Pioneer among investors in new accelerator.

Krissa Welshans 1

August 31, 2016

3 Min Read
New business accelerator to boost new ag tech companies

Four investors have signed on to support a new start-up business accelerator that will further establish central Iowa's reputation as a global leader in cutting-edge agricultural technology. The Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Cultivation Corridor announced Aug. 30 that they will form Ag Tech Accelerator (the Accelerator) with the support of investors DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co., John Deere and Peoples Co.

Each investor company has committed to support the Accelerator in the amount of $100,000 for the first year. The Accelerator is designed to build upon one of Iowa'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 start-up companies that are advancing technology in the insurance industry. The Ag Tech 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, chief executive 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, which, through the work of many community partners, has further established central Iowa as a destination for ag bioscience, agri-technology, 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," said Kathryn Kunert, vice president of economic connections and integration at MidAmerican Energy Co. and the 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 Co., John Deere and Peoples Co. have committed to support the Ag Tech Accelerator."

The four investors that have signed on to the Accelerator are leaders in the agriculture industry regionally, nationally and globally.

"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."

Ron Rutledge, president and chief executive officer at Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance, said investing in start-ups and promoting agricultural innovation puts Iowa in the national spotlight and benefits a broad range of agriculture-related businesses throughout the state and region. "We have long supported innovation in the industry, and we are proud to be one of the founding members of the Ag Tech Accelerator," he said.

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.

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