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Inaugural innovation and entrepreneur intern playing pivotal role at 16 Tech

May 7, 2024

Sreenidhi Jayakumar Sreenidhi Jayakumar is a first-year master's student at the Indiana University Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering in Indianapolis and the innovation and entrepreneur intern at 16 Tech. Photo courtesy of 16 TechSreenidhi Jayakumar views every day as an opportunity to find solutions to new problems. It’s only fitting she landed the position as 16 Tech Innovation District’s inaugural innovation and entrepreneur intern.

Jayakumar is a first-year master’s student at the Indiana University Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering in Indianapolis, where she studies human-computer interaction. As an innovation and entrepreneur intern at 16 Tech, she’ll play a pivotal role in helping the organization position downtown Indianapolis as an ecosystem of innovation by engaging local entrepreneurs and company leaders.

“In this role, I try to make better use of the technology at 16 Tech,” Jayakumar said. “Innovation-wise, I’m learning the operations and understanding the things people need for a better ecosystem there.”

An aerial view of the 16 Tech campus 16 Tech is a 50-acre, mixed-use campus dedicated to spurring innovation and economic opportunity. Photo courtesy of 16 TechLocated just a mile northwest of IU’s Indianapolis campus, 16 Tech is a mixed-use campus home to start-up companies, offsite offices, studio spaces and more. Its purpose is to be a premier innovation hub, bringing together entrepreneurs, academics, corporations and community members to promote new ideas and economic mobility in Indianapolis. The campus is wedged between Indiana Avenue, Waterway Boulevard and Fall Creek Parkway, making it an intersection of business, academia and medical industries.

Jayakumar’s internship through the Institute of Engaged Learning is just one example of existing collaborations between IU Indianapolis and 16 Tech and is one of the many ways both are leveraging urban research and budding economic development in Indianapolis.

While 16 Tech is already in close proximity to IU Indianapolis, it will soon become easier to travel between the two locations. Come late summer, 16 Tech will complete construction of the 16 Tech Bridge, which will connect the innovation district to Indianapolis’ downtown research medical corridor, including IU Health and the IU Indianapolis campus. And JagLine, the campus’s student transportation shuttle service, includes stops at 16 Tech for students wanting to utilize its workshops.

Additionally, AnalytiXIN, a Central Indiana Corporate Partnership program housed at 16 Tech, announced a program partnership with IU, other universities and local companies to reduce energy and carbon footprints of Indiana manufacturers. IU Research’s Innovation and Commercialization Office, which works with faculty to explore commercialization options related to their research, is also housed at the innovation district.

“We’re thrilled to engage in this partnership, it’s a great opportunity for young talent to get tremendous exposure into the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Nida Ansari, who serves as chief innovation officer of 16 Tech. “With over 250 entities represented in the district, our interns will get to interact with venture capitalists, startups, non-profits and academic institutions and develop professional experience that meaningfully informs career trajectories. This creates access to a talent pipeline for the entities in the district in a novel way and we’re excited to be driving this activity.”

Jayakumar works alongside 16 Tech’s chief innovation officer and experience manager to identify opportunities to grow membership, support tenants and minimize pain points in joining the community. Using research and data, Jayakumar helps local entrepreneurs envision themselves in the space and utilize its infrastructure. It’s a role that requires Jayakumar to wear several hats, but that’s what excites her, she said.

“There’s no one day that looks like another,” Jayakumar said. “You get to see new faces, new problems, which gives the opportunity to work out new solutions.”

She said her major sets her up for success in the role. Studying human-computer interaction is heavily focused on enhancing user experience and designing better ways to help people engage with emerging systems and technologies. Jayakumar said she’s able to constantly push the limit of design systems to achieve a better, customer-focused experience for 16 Tech’s members.

After Jayakumar completes her master’s degree, she plans to blend her undergraduate architecture experience with her computing knowledge to create sustainable physical and digital spaces. Though, once the time is right, she wants to again embrace chaos by creating her own start-up or agency.

“I’m looking forward to building my own identity,” Jayakumar said. “I think the 16 Tech internship is the opportunity that is right for me to start everything I’m aiming for.”

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