A new study of high-growth firms in the Indianapolis region sheds light on the challenges and opportunities faced by these important drivers of regional economic development. The study, funded by the Kauffman Foundation, is co-authored by Sameeksha Desai, an assistant professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, and Yasuyuki Motoyama, the Kauffman Foundation’s director in research and policy.
Desai also serves as associate director for the school’s Institute for Development Strategies.
The authors interviewed principals at high-growth firms to gain detailed insights into the Indianapolis entrepreneurial ecosystem. They found that the principals’ perceptions of the ecosystem were “generally positive,” although a number of opportunities for improvement were identified.
The study yielded several interesting findings with implications toward economic and workforce development. Among them:
- The Indianapolis ecosystem offers limited access to capital;
- High-growth companies tend to be connected to national markets and not to have extensive connections within the region;
- The area experiences a “boomerang effect,” which draws many former residents back to the region after they’ve lived and worked elsewhere;
- Many leaders embrace the supportive, collaborative aspects of working in Indianapolis;
- The region needs more technical and engineering talent.
Of course, this last finding is a topic that IU is working to address.
In late June, Innovate Indiana, in conjunction with TechPoint and support from The Lilly Foundation Inc., held a day-long event titled “E2E Convergence: An Education-to-Employment Conversation.” It brought education, technology, economic and workforce officials together to discuss how Indiana can better to meet the growing demand for technically skilled workers statewide.
At present, IU is working to develop an Intelligent Systems Engineering program in response to employer’s appeals for more engineers who understand informatics and computing.
The Kauffman study also highlighted the presence of leading educational institutions as a regional strength. However, it also noted that a key contributor to the “gap” between the demand and production of skilled workers in the Indianapolis area is that some companies experience difficulties identifying and recruiting talent.
Addressing this “gap” – and developing better pathways for students into careers – is a major Innovate Indiana initiative. Innovate Indiana will host another E2E Convergence event in 2016, so please stay tuned for more details.