Welcome to our new blog page — your resource for the latest Accelerator news and updates from our program and startups.

Please join us in welcoming our 2018 cohort! The five AgTech startups arrived May 29 in Des Moines’ historic East Village to begin their 94-day journey through our program. The companies selected for this year’s class are:

  • U.S. Design Consultants (Osceola, IA) — A startup that has developed an innovative method of broadcast dispensing granular products that addresses fundamental challenges and eliminates negative consequences attributed to conventional broadcast dispensing equipment.
  • AgHelp (Grand Rapids, MI)— A mobile platform designed to address the agricultural labor shortage with a holistic approach. The app connects agricultural employers with available local labor, source labor and support services nationally at a fraction of the cost of what is currently available.
  • BirdPreneur (Abeokuta, Nigeria) — A one-stop shop aviculture platform focused on helping individuals and corporate organizations raise birds to increase meat and egg production across the value chain in Nigeria.
  • VakSea (Baltimore, MD) — A novel oral vaccine delivery platform for aquaculture designed to be more affordable and effective and easier to deliver.
  • Krobel Corp (Mankato, MN)  A startup developing a low-cost, easy-to-manufacture device that monitors the respiratory rate of an individual hog from nursing to finishing, which will help notify farmers of potentially sick animals.

Mentoring is key to the success of any startup. Over the next few weeks, each class participant will be paired with each mentor in a 20–30-minute speed-dating setting. This process allows them a low-pressure, low-commitment mechanism to connect with and learn about each other’s innovations and services. Mentors and startups then rate each other for potential future connection and desire to engage. The results generated help us determine the appropriate mentor/startup fit for the remainder of the program.

In addition to mentorship, startups selected for the program receive $40,000 in seed funding, field trips to investor and mentor companies, outreach, networking and presentation opportunities and more. New this year, the Class of 2018 will get the opportunity to present their innovations at the Farm Progress Show — the nation’s largest outdoor farm show — hosted in Boone, Iowa, in August. Following completion of the program, the startups will attend The Accelerator’s Demonstration Day, where they will present their innovations during World Food Prize week. Demonstration Day is scheduled for October 16 and will be hosted at the Downtown Des Moines Marriott.

We would like to thank our investors and mentors for their continued commitment to our mission as we head into our second year. The Accelerator is supported by some of the largest, well-known AgTech companies in Iowa, including John Deere, Peoples Company, Sukup Manufacturing, Kent Corporation, DuPont Pioneer, Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company, Grinnell Mutual, in addition to a mentor pool of 120 agribusiness professionals.

We encourage you to continue following our blog to learn more about upcoming Accelerator events and happenings. Stay tuned for another update in the coming weeks!