By Bill Stephan, Indiana University Vice President for Engagement
In his 2007 inaugural address, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie introduced Innovate Indiana as the university’s newest economic development initiative.
“It will consolidate all of the university’s economic development activities and in turn provide a single point of contact for our partners,” he said. “It will invest in and coordinate IU’s economic development activities across the state.”
Innovate Indiana addresses two key elements of the IU Bicentennial Strategic Plan: excellence in engagement and economic development, and building a prosperous and innovative Indiana. The Office of the Vice President for Engagement serves as the steward of the Innovate Indiana brand as it engages strategic partners, connects IU resources and advances Indiana’s economy.
Innovate Indiana and research, innovations and entrepreneurship
The IU Research and Technology Corp. was organized to facilitate the commercialization of technology emanating from research conducted at the university. Among its tasks are helping entrepreneurial faculty develop startup companies, enhancing and offering funding opportunities, and building relationships with public- and private-sector partners to provide talent and space.
IURTC was established as the IU Advanced Research and Technology Institute in 1997. Renamed in 2004, IURTC has filed more than 4,600 global patent applications and received almost 1,200 global patents. It has generated and distributed more than $142 million in licensing and related income to researchers, laboratories and departments.
Innovate Indiana supports entrepreneurship also by sponsoring Startup Weekend and the B-Start Pre-Accelerator Program. During Startup Weekend, a 54-hour event, teams of innovators and entrepreneurs pitch ideas for new companies and develop a working prototype. B-Start is designed to give Bloomington inventors the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of building a business through one-on-one meeting with community members. Additionally, IURTC’s SpinUp program helps launch companies founded upon IU intellectual property by supporting federal grant proposals and assisting with corporate documents.
Innovate Indiana and economic development
Innovate Indiana impacts statewide economic development through CREED, or the Council on Regional Engagement and Economic Development. The council includes representatives from each IU campus, directly appointed by campus chancellors. It identifies how the university can bring its resources and expertise to promote and enhance statewide economic development efforts.
CREED manages the IU Regional Economic Development Fund; 32 grants have awarded $60,000 to enable campus economic development initiatives. It provides an enduring forum during which regional economic issues are addressed, which fosters greater communication and enhances connectivity of IU campuses and their communities.
Innovate Indiana and the Office of the Vice President for Engagement also represent the university’s international interests and the state’s economic interests through multiple overseas assignments to China, India, Israel, Japan, Niger, Poland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.
Innovate Indiana and workforce development
Innovate Indiana also hosts the annual Education-to-Employment Convergence in Indianapolis, which receives support from Lilly Endowment. The event brings together representatives from universities, industry, government and nonprofits to advance partnerships that will ensure our graduates are well-integrated into Indiana’s workforce. The 2018 E2E event is scheduled for April 24.
Innovate Indiana and policy development
Innovate Indiana channels the expertise of university faculty to address complex problems. Examples of this work include the newly launched Applied Research Institute, the Center for Rural Engagement and the Public Policy Institute.
The Applied Research Institute will coordinate multi-institutional research collaborations within the state. The institute will help Indiana institutions address shifts in research funding and develop talent and expertise in strategic research areas. It has received a $16 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., and its board already has authorized two-year funding for trusted microelectronics research.
The Center for Rural Engagement was formed to support IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel’s initiative to improve opportunities for residents of southwest central Indiana. Its goals include building durable and robust partnerships with regional communities, and developing scalable, evidence-based approaches to issues challenging rural communities.
The Public Policy Institute’s Thriving Communities Thriving State initiative has received CREED support through the hosting of facilitated public forums on IU’s campuses. The Public Policy Institute continues the conversation among residents, stakeholders and elected officials about the challenges and opportunities related to creating a vibrant future for Indiana. IU’s Office of the Vice President for Engagement maintains key alignments between public policy and the state’s economic development.
Innovate Indiana going forward
We are working on two major, new university economic engagement initiatives. The first is the development of a Corporate Engagement Working Group. It convenes key internal partners who engage with private sector partners in various capacities. It will produce a more centralized and coordinated strategic approach to managing university corporate relations. The group is modeled on a similar framework similarly employed at the University of Minnesota.
The second initiative is the launch of the IU Valued Added web page, which is a collaborative effort between the Office of the Vice President for Engagement, Office of the Vice President for Research, the IU Alumni Association and the IU Bicentennial. This interactive page, which will be accessible to all external stakeholders, will graphically illustrate the university’s impact across all 92 counties. It will feature key metrics and compelling alumni success stories.
Progress has been made across several areas during Innovate Indiana’s 10 years. More remains to be done as Indiana University continues its mission to build a prosperous and innovative Indiana. Through resources developed and managed by the Office of the Vice President of Engagement and Innovate Indiana, this goal can be achieved.