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Advancing IU’s economic development, statewide engagement mission in 2017-18

Innovate Indiana invested in startups, launched a new fund, hosted events, established dedicated IU spaces and more

Aug 15, 2018

In the 2017-18 fiscal year, Indiana University strengthened its impact on Hoosier lives around the state through its economic development and statewide engagement missions.

Those missions are the responsibilities of Innovate Indiana, which is part of the Office of the Vice President for Engagement. Bill Stephan, vice president for engagement, said the work to advance those missions covers several short- and long-term tactics.

“For example, we refocused the duties of the IU Research and Technology Corp. to encourage entrepreneurship and startup success at all IU locations. This will have long-term effects of diversifying the state’s economy, increasing job growth and tax revenues, and bringing to market new ways to improve people’s lives around the world,” he said.

“IURTC has impacted entrepreneurs’ lives immediately by launching the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, which invests in companies with a strong university connection. The fund launched in February and has already invested in several high-tech startups. This is one example of the day-to-day impact IU can have on people’s lives.”


The Indiana University Council for Regional Engagement and Economic Development, or CREED, addresses regional economic concerns and identifies ways that IU can use its resources to advance economic development efforts in the state. Each of the IU locations across the state has a CREED representative, appointed by the location’s chancellor or provost.

CREED met four times during the fiscal year. The council awarded more than $22,000 to 11 projects around the state, supporting the IU East Maker Space and Bloomington FUSE Startup Awards and other programs, sponsoring the Indianapolis Sustainability Summit and other events, and developing resources such as the Business Confidence Index for Northwest Indiana.

The Innovate Indiana Fund, which partners with companies that have a meaningful Indiana University connection, made new or follow-on investments in the 2017-18 fiscal year to the following companies: Allinaire, Anagin, Canvas Talent, Costello and ZIO.

Innovate Indiana also launched a grant program called Sustaining Talent, Engaging Partners – or STEP – to support initiatives at regional campuses that build connections among the campus, students and local employers and meet community needs for talent development.

Hosting and sponsoring events

During the 2017-18 fiscal year, Innovate Indiana sponsored several events. One, called “How to Do Business with IUPUI,” brought together Indianapolis-area business owners and consultants with IUPUI procurement officers. The goal was to strengthen the city’s business climate, revitalize its neighborhoods and enhance the region’s workforce. The Indy Chamber and IUPUI Office of Community Engagement were co-hosts.

Other sponsored and hosted events included the Economic Club of Indiana’s luncheon speakers series, the B-Start pre-accelerator startup program, the 2018 Education-to-Employment Convergence, the annual Combine conference for Midwest entrepreneurs, the Air Force Science and Technology 2030 Initiative, and the Fort Wayne Technology Commercialization Summit.

Traveling and speaking engagements

In September, several members of Innovate Indiana traveled to Washington, D.C., to brief representatives from the Office of the Vice President of the United States and the Office of Science and Technology Policy on the innovation ecosystem NSWC Crane has helped develop in Southern Indiana. NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command. Stephan was one of the key presenters at the meeting and discussed the extensive range of partnerships between IU and Crane across all commands.

Other national and international traveling and speaking engagements included the University Economic Development Association Annual Summit in Long Beach, California; the Kinetic conference in Indianapolis to speak on a panel titled “Higher Ed Partnerships Boost Entrepreneurship”; a panel discussion and a meeting and debate at the invitation-only Global University Venturing Leadership Society meeting in London; and the Leadership Engagement and Discovery Conference in Indianapolis.

Dedicated engagement locations

In March, Lilly Endowment Inc. provided the IU Center for Rural Engagement with a $10 million grant. The center matches faculty researchers, data support, teaching and classes, and student volunteers to the needs and opportunities identified by communities. The center’s initial focus is on health and wellness, community development, and the arts and quality of place.

Other university-dedicated spaces created included those at the WestGate@Crane Technology Park in Odon, the Indiana IoT Lab in Fishers, The Union 525 in Indianapolis, Dimension Mill in Bloomington and Inventrek Technology Park in Kokomo. There also are plans for an IU presence at 16 Tech in Indianapolis and an Indiana Health IoT Lab in Fort Wayne.

Innovate Indiana also collaborated with several university partners to create the IU Statewide Impact website, an online location that represents the university’s direct influence across each of the state’s 92 counties.

“Innovate Indiana has long supported the university’s mission to engage with all regions of the state and to further develop the statewide economy and workforce,” Stephan said. “The achievements of the 2017-18 fiscal year are built upon the foundation of the successes from previous years and will serve as the foundation for numerous others in the future.”

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