This is Part 1 of a two-part series.
The IU Angel Network is the latest evolution of Indiana University’s efforts to provide opportunity and drive innovation among its alumni and community. But how did the idea for the Angel Network come about? And what opportunity does it represent?
A new concept
Since 1997, IU Ventures and its staff have been working to help the university and its community make the most of intellectual property. Over 20 years, the organization has established the $10 million Innovate Indiana Fund and supported the establishment of thousands of patents and disclosures of inventions. The returns have been nearly $140 million in licensing and related income distributed to IU campuses, departments and laboratories, pursuant to the IU Intellectual Property Policy. Though there have been several rebrands and different names for the initiatives along the way, the focus on the goal has remained consistent.
“The world-class research being done on our campuses has potential to change the world — and in some cases save lives — every single day. It would be irresponsible to not work toward getting these breakthroughs into the market,” said Jason Whitney, executive director of the IU Angel Network.
Along the way, the team at IU Ventures kept considering the idea of doing more for two disparate groups in its sphere of influence.
Opportunity to invest in Indiana University
On one hand, IU Ventures wanted to do more for the individuals connected to IU, founding life-changing startups or uncovering great intellectual discoveries they didn’t know how to commercialize. On the other hand, the organization also knew that IU alumni, parents and other IU-affiliated individuals were looking for opportunities to help the same innovators build a business.
The vision for a network that made investors aware of IU-affiliated opportunity — not just to invest capital, but also time, insight and other resources — came up naturally time and time again.
“To best support our campus entrepreneurs, it is important that we connect outside of our traditional borders to provide additional funding, talent recruitment, mentoring and customer identification,” Whitney said. “In addition to the option for equity investments into the companies identified as good candidates via the IU Angel Network, our angels in turn become advocates for the great companies we engage with. This means the network can help them in a plethora of other ways in addition to financial support.”
Both Whitney and IU Ventures President and CEO Tony Armstrong knew that other universities had taken on similar projects, but not how to make IU’s program stand out among the crowd. Armstrong also knew the IU Angel Network needed a strong foundation. That’s when he called on his longtime acquaintance and fellow IU supporter Tedd Green.
Green is a two-time alumnus of the Kelley School of Business who went on to lead Bloomington startup Cook Pharmica through an acquisition by Catalent Biologics. After exiting Catalent as a senior vice president, Green was looking for his next challenge when he reconnected with Armstrong.
“Tony revisited some conversations we’d had about establishing an angel network at IU alongside the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund. I was interested in helping IU Ventures further its mission of supporting innovative IU startups by establishing a program to connect those entities with the vast resources of the university’s alumni base.”
About IU Ventures
IU Ventures is a Section 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering Indiana University faculty, alumni and friends to support and invest in IU-affiliated innovation. Through three programs (the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, the IU Angel Network and The Quarry), IU Ventures works to provide opportunities for individuals affiliated with IU to network with fellow entrepreneurs; build innovative new businesses; and support growing enterprises through donations, investments, time and talents.
Visit www.iuventures.com for more information.
Part 2 of this two-part series about the IU Angel Network will be published Jan. 30, 2020.