Organizers celebrated the Iowa AgTech Accelerator’s second cohort on Tuesday with a little reunion at the 2018 Borlaug Dialogue. 
Representatives of the accelerator’s five startups pitched their agtech businesses to attendees at the annual Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation at the Downtown Marriott.
“Their focus on global food sustainability is at the core of all of our investor companies, but also at the core of any of the startups working in ag to increase efficiency, increase production for farmers,” Accelerator Executive Director Megan Vollstedt said. “It’s a pretty natural fit, apart from even being right in our backyard in Des Moines, which is a wonderful opportunity to host this event in conjunction with the symposium. We work with the [World] Food Prize quite a bit.” 
The agtech accelerator’s 94 days ended in August, but participants returned because the event’s core focus is a priority for the partnerships the startups seek to build, Vollstedt said. 
“Within that month, a lot can change,” Vollstedt said. 
Based near Osceola, U.S. Design Consultants was the only startup from Iowa in the 2018 class, which included startups from Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota and Nigeria this year. President and CEO Norm Robbins joined the agtech accelerator after designing his own broadcast seeding system for helicopters, aimed at simplifying the cover crops seeding process for farmers. 
“This is my first run at establishing a full-blown business. Having advice and counsel on how to do that, the right ways to go through the steps to doing that, are very important,” Robbins said. 
Applications for the 2019 cohort of up to six startups will be open online starting Jan. 7, Vollstedt said.