IEDA awards $6.2M to 5 startups, one Entrepreneurial Investment Award grant

The Iowa Economic Development Authority awards funding to startups in the form of low-interest loans through its Innovation Continuum, which includes five funds that are designed to offer companies non-dilutive funding at every stage of business growth. The funds are: Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR), Demonstration Fund and the Innovation Acceleration Fund, which offers Launch, Propel and Innovation Expansion awards.

These financing options are geared toward companies operating in the fields of advanced manufacturing, biosciences or information technology. Each fund in the continuum also requires the company to supply matching funds, which could come from family and friends funding, outside investors or federal funding programs like the Small Business Innovation Research program.

Starting in 2023, IEDA has provided additional funding through the U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). Iowa received $96 million from the SSBCI in 2022, and $22 million was allocated to increasing the amount of funding available through each of IEDA’s innovation funds. For example, before the SSBCI funding, companies could receive a POCR loan of up to $25,000; now POCR loans of up to $50,000 are available.

After the application process, which includes an interview with a panel of experts in the industry the company operates in, companies present to the IEDA Technology Commercialization Committee (TCC). The TCC then makes recommendations to the IEDA board for final approval of awards.

The SSBCI Review Committee also reviews and scores applications and makes recommendations to the executive director of IEDA for final approval of awards that are funded through the SSBCI allocation. Both committees meet every two months.

Below are the startups and businesses that received funding through IEDA programs in the second quarter of 2024.

IEDA Innovation Fund

Bovi-Jet – Granger: $50,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan. Bovi-Jet makes devices for cattle producers to aid in animal health. Its product addresses the time and manual labor required to treat livestock throughout their lifetime by using sensors to detect movement of cattle and pour a stream of medicine along the backs with a farmer’s existing chute system.

Incentit – West Des Moines: $50,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance loan. Incentit is an integrated incentive management platform supporting organizations that implement their own programs along with third-party program managers. The software offers program management, tracking and reporting as well as a mobile app and application intake portals.

State Small Business Credit Initiative

PowerPollen – Ames: $1 million Innovation Acceleration Expansion Fund loan. PowerPollen developed a “pollination on demand” technology for the global seed industry. The loan is for IP development and evaluation, prototype development and equipment, product refinement and testing, project team and partnerships and manufacturing. (Read more about PowerPollen’s recent fundraising efforts here.) 

Tractor Zoom – West Des Moines: $1 million Innovation Acceleration Expansion Fund loan. Tractor Zoom offers online solutions for the farm equipment and heavy machinery market. streamlines the process for buyers to find, value and finance equipment. Additionally, Tractor Zoom Pro and Anvil Pro, help value, manage and sell equipment assets.

Gross-Wen Technologies – Slater: $500,000 Innovation Acceleration Propel Fund loan. Gross-Wen provides a patented algae biofilm treatment system under the RAB brand. The technology enables the effective and sustainable use of algae to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater. It can also be used with clean water to grow valuable algae for various uses that include fertilizers, bioplastics and biofuels. 

Entrepreneurial Investment Award program

The Entrepreneurial Investment Award (EIA) program provides financial assistance to service providers that offer technical and financial assistance to entrepreneurs and startup companies seeking to create, locate or expand a business in Iowa. The award is in the form of a grant through a competitive application process.

Innovate 120 – Maquoketa: Innovate 120, a coworking space in Maquoketa, received a $200,000 grant from the EIA program to support program costs for the first two years, including curriculum, mentor coaching, product development, marketing support and meeting space.

The organization plans to pilot an “e-accelerator” program to build opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs in Jackson County. The 12-month cohort-based program will guide participants from ideation through product launch and optimization, increasing access to resources for rural Iowans. 

Previous coverage: Funding recap: IEDA awards $1.6 million to startups in first quarter of 2024

View all past Funding Recap stories