By Jason Whitney, manager of strategic partnerships, IU Research and Technology Corp.
The Bloomington entrepreneurial and tech communities came together April 6-7 for the ninth installment of the annual Combine conference. What was rumored to be the best and biggest conference to date did not disappoint. More than 380 attendees packed the Monroe Convention Center over two days to hear regional- and national-level speakers navigate topics such as the utilization of tech for social good, scaling a business and where to look for entrepreneurial talent.
Indiana University was well-represented during the event, with several alumni taking the stage as panelists. The Combine also featured talks by Travis Brown, the assistant dean for innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization at the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, as well as the always-engaging Brad Wheeler, IU’s vice president for IT and chief information officer.
In addition to individual talks, Indiana University DNA was on full display during the Startup Happy Hour event, which featured entities being run by IU students, alumni and faculty. Representing companies in several different stages of growth presented unique opportunities for each entity as they were grilled with questions from fellow attendees about the development of their technology, how scalable their project is and the pricing models they have developed for their business.
IU-related companies that demonstrated at The Combine included:
CareBand — Founded by IU alumnus Adam Sobol, who previously won the Indiana University BEST competition. CareBand empowers people with dementia and their caregivers with world-class, location-based technology.
BrailleTech — Winner of the 2018 JagStart competition at IUPUI and founded by Madhura Mhatre, a graduate student in the IUPUI School of Informatics and Computing. BrailleTech enables people affected by visual impairments to read Braille on digital devices using a sensor-enabled glove.
Care Revolution — Recently founded by Dr. Kathleen T. Unroe, associate professor of medicine in the IU School of Medicine. Care Revolution is working to develop a technology platform that dramatically reduces potentially avoidable hospitalizations in long-term care facilities. The company is based on the very successful results of a long-term research project called OPTIMISTIC currently being administered at the Regenstrief Institute at IUPUI.
Demonstrating a wide array of businesses all containing the common denominator of having IU roots was an excellent way to kick off the first event since the inception of the new IU Philanthropic Venture Fund being managed by the IU Research and Technology Corporation. This fund will provide IU faculty, students and alumni with capital to help them further their research into a commercially viable product.