BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Julie Heath, a leader in launching innovative public-private initiatives and social impact organizations and the architect of Indiana’s first entrepreneurship ecosystem strategy, will oversee a new Indiana University initiative to support students and faculty university-wide in the creation and growth of startup ventures.
Julie Heath. Photo courtesy Julie Heath.
Heath, who recently served as vice president of entrepreneurial ecosystems for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., has been selected as the inaugural executive director of the IU Innovates Hub, which will launch this fall and provide a focal point for university efforts to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation. She starts her role Sept. 18. The IU Innovates initiative will be based on IU’s Bloomington campus but assist students and faculty across the university statewide.
“As someone who has successfully built and led several high-impact entrepreneurship programs, Julie understands the resources founders and entrepreneurs require to pursue high-potential business ideas and launch successful startup ventures,” IU President Pamela Whitten said. “Under her leadership, we can make an enormous economic impact in Indiana by scaling the best Indiana University ideas into companies and strengthening collaboration with key research and industry leaders across our state.”
Before joining the IEDC in fall 2021 to advance Indiana’s commitment to becoming a global leader in entrepreneurship and innovation, Heath was CEO at the Speak Easy, a homegrown nonprofit co-working space in Indianapolis and the first shared space in Indiana to serve entrepreneurs. She has also served as vice president of partnerships for Indianapolis-based Boardable, a startup and tech platform that improves management for nonprofit boards.
During her nearly two-year tenure as Indiana’s vice president of entrepreneurial ecosystems, Heath helped the state achieve historic levels of resources for entrepreneurship by conducting a statewide assessment of startup ecosystems; expanding partnerships with entrepreneur support organizations, business incubators and nonprofits; and establishing new impact metrics and performance indicators, including net-new jobs generated by young companies and GDP driven by young firms.
“For almost two years, Julie has spearheaded a successful strategy to support entrepreneurs and strengthen the culture of innovation across our state,” IU Vice President for University Relations Michael Huber said. “With economic development as a central component of our IU 2030 strategic plan, we’re extremely excited for how Julie’s leadership will shape entrepreneurship across the university and strengthen the pipeline of new business ventures that stem from student and faculty innovation and discovery.”
In her new role at IU, Heath will oversee programming that will include ongoing student and faculty events in addition to seminars and workshops on entrepreneurship. IU Innovates will also leverage existing IU pitch competitions and establish a guided program to support groups of faculty and students through the incubation of new business ideas. Students and faculty will have access to a formal curriculum for launching startup ventures, in addition to a network of vital business services including legal counsel, branding and marketing support, and consultant support for those seeking venture capital funding.
“As awareness surges about the importance of entrepreneurship for economic growth and improved quality of life, national grant makers and state leaders increasingly look to universities to commercialize innovation,” Heath said. “The IU Innovates Hub initiative — setting the strategic direction, engaging the critical constituencies, and rallying the resources and partnerships to increase entrepreneurial activities at IU — is perfectly timed for this vanguard of economic development.”