By Kirsten Adams, Office of the Vice President for Government Relations and Economic Engagement, Indiana University
The Indiana University Council for Regional Engagement and Economic Development, or CREED, held its third quarterly meeting of 2019 Aug. 28 on the IUPUI campus.
Bill Stephan, IU vice president for government relations and economic engagement, highlighted the start of the university’s Bicentennial year. The 200 Festival will take place Sept. 18-28, across all campuses and for all students, alumni, faculty and staff.
Elevate Nexus program
Jacob Schpok, executive director of university initiatives and entrepreneur-in-residence, and Landon Young, director of university initiatives and entrepreneur-in-residence, both of Elevate Ventures, presented their Elevate Nexus program. It operates as a traditional investment firm looking for the highest return on investment for partners in concert with an evergreen fund. It invests only in businesses with an Indiana footprint.
A lack of opportunities for venture capital investment currently exists in the marketplace, so Elevate Ventures is looking to leverage partnerships and to turn the resources of staffing to support good work that is already being done. They are turning their funding and programs toward potential entrepreneurs, encouraging startups to think of bigger possibilities with innovation-driven business models, teaching methodologies and best practices through increased programming and supplementing where gaps exist in current partner portfolios, and investing in high-risk, early-stage startups for approximately $2 million each year over three years.
Elevate Ventures is currently on a listening tour to ensure alignment with current and potential partners. Their e-newsletter will continue to spotlight university collaborations, and, to encourage cross-pollination of ideas, four grants of $50,000 each are available. Elevate’s model is to reinvest in its startup partners.
An educational bus tour has been created across the state, with Schpok meeting entrepreneurs in the northern part of Indiana and Young meeting those the southern part.
TechPoint strategic relationship program
TechPoint is a nonprofit with the goal of making Indianapolis one of the top tech hubs in the nation. In support of this objective, TechPoint supports companies that need funding and talent, innovation and research, and strategy and policy.
Jennifer Merrell, senior relationship manager for TechPoint, said the organization received more than 1,800 applications for its extern program, spanning 43 states and 120 universities. Following the externship, participants had a 97 percent positive impression of the city, and 73 percent indicated a likelihood of taking jobs in Indy. Building on these positive results, IUPUI partnered with TechPoint for a continuation of the extern program.
Merrell said Indianapolis is one of the lower-cost markets in which to operate and that it ranks first on LinkedIn and Zillow for job opportunity and house availability. Harnessing these assets, TechPoint is identifying a list of scale-up companies from around the country to attract to Indy in next two years. Further, its “Wish You Were Here” campaign has been connecting open positions with highly skilled, marketable employees outside of the Hoosier state who might want to relocate back to Indiana.
Center for Rural Engagement
IU Center for Rural Engagement’s Jane Rogan, the director of Sustaining Hoosier Communities, and Jacob Simpson, the Resilient Hoosier Communities liaison, shared an overview of their Sustaining Hoosier Communities program.
The Center for Rural Engagement has been in existence for 18 months; so far, 7,000 residents, 39 communities and 5,000 students have been engaged, and 158 projects have been enacted.
The Sustaining Hoosier Communities initiative is thriving in its third year. The student-driven teaching initiative — the largest rural-focused university teaching initiative in the U.S. — received the 2019 Outstanding Program award from the international Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities – Network, or EPIC-N. More than 1,400 students have been engaged, and 80,000 hours of student service-learning has gone into partnering with communities in rural Indiana.
The EPIC-Network conference will be hosted April 5-8 at IU Bloomington. The focus will be on practical information and steps to begin and work toward a community goal. Three main areas that overlap and draw into each other are resilience, quality of place and health. Tours into Lawrence and Orange counties will be given to share work already in progress.
Focus on IU East
Tim Scales, senior lecturer in the School of Business and Economics at IU East, provided an overview of the Business Opportunities for Self-Starters program. Established in 2007 to encourage youth entrepreneurship in a nine-county region, the BOSS program was funded through the state for two years.
The award-winning program exists on a zero budget by working through high school teachers and doing presentations at the campus with faculty. Over 12 years, 3,500 students have taken the course, 30 businesses have partnered with the program, 60 teachers have been integrated and $380,000 has been generated as a result. A new extension of the program is coming in 2020 to support post-high school students.
The CREED Regional Economic Development (RED) Fund has provided support for this program, and two CREED members have served as guest speakers. The program is a finalist for the University Economic Development Association 2019 Talent Award of Excellence; the awards will be determined at the UEDA’s annual summit at the end of September.
RED Fund awards
Two milestones have been reached. David Gard, IU assistant vice president for economic engagement, reported that over $100,000 has been awarded to more than 50 projects through the RED Fund in the nine years since its inception. Two new applications for RED funds were approved.
IUPUI received a $2,500 award for “Pop-up Business School.” To be held at the Boner Neighborhood Center and based on a Houston pilot example, the two-week, 10-day program will focus on downtown neighborhoods as an opportunity for residents. Attendees will be encouraged to start where they are with a zero-debt focus. Indianapolis will be the second city in the United States to participate in the international programs already in motion. Partner JPMorgan Chase will have advisors on site, and there will be a 130-company community fair. Source River West will follow up with attendees after the conference on next steps.
IUPUC received a $2,500 award for “Lead by Design: Inclusion Revealed.” As a response to attendee requests to do a second round of the Lead by Design project, part two will focus on inclusion. The conference will highlight the positive aspects; expose multiple challenges; and encourage discussion around proven, successful business activities and ways to incorporate those activities into each attendee’s organization.
The next CREED meeting will be held Nov. 6 in Indianapolis.