‘Startup Stadium’ Provides Chance to Lure Worldwide Attention During International Event in Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa is hosting its own version of “Shark Tank,” the reality television show where entrepreneurs pitch their latest ideas before potential investors. It is all part of the 17th Annual Bio World Congress, a gathering of 900 people from 36 countries.

Here is more information about the 2019 Bio World Congress, held in Iowa for the first time.

“Seed companies feel the same pain as farmers,” explained Todd Krone, the chief executive officer of PowerPollen, an Ankeny-based company that harvests pollen as a way to increase crop yields, rather than concentrating on creating plants that are resistant to pesticides or herbicides.

Krone was one of the entrepreneurs making his pitch before judges inside an area at the Bio World Congress called the ‘Startup Stadium,’ a glass-enclosed corner of a ballroom in the Iowa Events Center. Krone and others took turns explaining what their companies do now, what they hope to do and the investment needs that could lead to further success.

“It gives them an opportunity to be on the world stage,” Cultivation Corridor executive director Billi Hunt said of the opportunities that Krone and others get during the conference.

Sarel Ashkenazy, the CEO of  Seed-X Technologies which is based in Delaware and Israel, is also looking for opportunities. His company uses artificial intelligence to detect flaws in seeds earlier in the growing process. “It’s our aim here in this work to make sure our grandson will be able to live at least at the same quality that we have,” Ashkenazy said of his philosophy to growing more food while respecting food’s potential impact on the environment. “By 2050, we are not going to have enough food, so whatever supports this ecosystem, we are here for,” he added.

Researchers forecast climate change is already impacting food production and the world’s growing population may not have enough food for future generations.


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