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Iowa agtech startups dominate national competition

January 31, 2018

Iowa agtech startups dominate national competition

The American Farm Bureau has held its Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge four times, and companies from Iowa have won three of four.

The latest winner, SwineTech, is an agtech company from Oskaloosa that uses sensors to help prevent sows from crushing their piglets. The creators of SwineTech started the company as University of Iowa students, when one of the founders was working part-time in a swine-raising operation.

That type of first-hand experience with modern agriculture is what makes Iowa agtech companies successful. Iowa’s two other winners of the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, Accugrain and ScoutPro, were agtech companies with founders who worked on farms. It’s the latest evolution of a story that has been going on for more than a hundred years—the innovative Iowa farmer. Entrepreneurial farmers have created some of Iowa’s largest companies and are a major reason why Iowa, in addition to being one of the nation’s agriculture leaders, is also a center of manufacturing.

New agtech accelerators have formed in Iowa to foster this generation of entrepreneurs. The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator in Des Moines is currently accepting applications for its second cohort. Its financial backers include household names like John Deere and DowDuPont, as well as stalwarts of the agricultural industry that are well known to farmers, like Sukup Manufacturing.  Another accelerator, the Ag Startup Engine at Iowa State University in Ames, spins companies out of student and faculty research and has also attracted corporate backing. The Iowa Startup Accelerator in Cedar Rapids, while not focused solely on agtech, counts SwineTech among its graduates.

Iowa offer a range of programs for entrepreneurs. Visit for more information these programs.



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