Grinnell College and Techstars Announce Investment Partnership

Collaboration provides new accelerator program and access to capital and mentorship for entrepreneurs in a variety of sectors.

October 22, 2019

Leaders from Grinnell College and Techstars announced today the creation of a new accelerator program, Techstars Iowa, to be located in Des Moines, Iowa. The investment office of Grinnell College is providing the initial funding for the effort. Each year, Techstars Iowa will select 10 companies to participate in the accelerator where they will grow their businesses with funding, hands-on mentorship, and tools and resources.

“This is an exciting announcement and we are pleased to be a key player in bringing this level of startup expertise, capital and opportunity to Iowa,” said Jainen “JT” Thayer, CFA, who is the chief investment officer for Grinnell College. “We know good ideas are not just found in California and New York, and our goal with this investment partnership is to demonstrate the level of talent that can be found and grown right here in Iowa.”

The investment partnership to help launch Techstars Iowa, and the role the program will play in supporting Iowa’s entrepreneurial community, aligns closely with the mission of Grinnell College, which aims to provide students with unique educational opportunities while advancing the common good. The partnership will provide participating startups access to Grinnell College faculty as mentors, students as interns and employees, and a wide variety of research and support tools that can help grow businesses across a variety of sectors.

“This partnership gets at the heart of what it means to be Grinnellian,” said Raynard S. Kington, president of Grinnell College. “We promise our students a diverse educational experience rooted in creative and critical thinking. This is another excellent way for our students to gain meaningful, real-world experience and to put ideas into action.”  

The new Techstars Iowa program will be open to startups addressing innovations across a broad technology landscape. The program will be led by Kerty Levy, managing director for Techstars Iowa, and supported by Grinnell College, as well as various Iowa community members. Techstars and Grinnell College are exploring additional partners to participate in the accelerator program and will make additional announcements as agreements are finalized.

“It’s wonderful that Techstars is joining the local innovation ecosystem and collaborating with the community to drive entrepreneurship across Iowa,” said Levy. “Partnering with Grinnell College, a private institution with a deeply meaningful history of nearly 175 years in the Iowa community, is a phenomenal opportunity for Techstars’ first accelerator in Iowa. This investment partnership will further community collaboration and entrepreneurship opportunities across the state.”
The inaugural Techstars Iowa cohort will run for 13 weeks, from September 2020 to December 2020. Applications will open on February 17, 2020 and be accepted through May 10, 2020. Startups interested in participating in Techstars Iowa are encouraged to learn more by visiting the Techstars Iowa program page or expressing interest here. Corporations interested in learning more about Techstars Accelerators and Techstars dedication to corporate innovation can learn more at

Local and state leaders welcomed the news of this new partnership and see it as a positive addition to what Iowa already offers.

“The state of Iowa and our communities are increasingly named among the best places to start or own a business, so it makes perfect sense Techstars would locate here,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Finance Authority. “We have worked across business, academia and government to make critical resources more accessible to start-ups and I think we’re beginning to see the results in a thriving, growing entrepreneurial environment.”

“There are other accelerator programs in Iowa, but as the first broad-tech accelerator we believe this effort will provide a wider range of entrepreneurs – and their companies – an opportunity to tap into the expertise and resources Techstars offers through their worldwide network of alumni, mentors, investors and corporate partners,” offered Thayer.


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