Des Moines Doubles Down on Ag Tech Funding

September 8, 2016 12:00 PM

You’ve heard of Northern California’s Silicon Valley, but what about the so-called Silicon Prairie? It’s disputed which Midwestern locale can lay claim to that particular throne, but Des Moines just beefed up its résumé when it recently announced that four investors have fronted an Ag Tech Accelerator in the area.

The announcement came from the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Cultivation Corridor. Four companies – DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company, John Deere and Peoples Company – each committed to donating $100,000 in The Accelerator’s first year. The goal? Boost Iowa’s ag industry and advance technology in the process.

“[This] announcement 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.”

The Accelerator’s work will align closely with the goals of Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor – to make central Iowa a destination for agbioscience, agritechnology, biorenewables and plant sciences.

Investors say they hope The Accelerator will help bridge the state’s past successes in the agriculture industry with future-facing new advances.

"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.

The Accelerator’s next steps include forming a board, hiring a managing director and housing its first class by 2017.

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