As Indiana University prepares to celebrate Homecoming this weekend, the university is less than a week away from another noteworthy “reunion” activity bringing together alumni and other friends of the university.
On Thursday, Oct. 21, IU Ventures will host the inaugural IU Founders and Funders Network Conference, which will spotlight key resources available to IU-affiliated entrepreneurs—including talent, expertise, educational programming, capital and connections. The event will also call attention to pathways for potential investors and others from IU’s global community to accelerate high-potential business ventures in Indiana and strengthen the Hoosier state’s fast-growing culture of entrepreneurship.
IU Ventures assists IU students, faculty, staff and alumni with advancing high potential new venture opportunities. Its mission is to serve as a catalyst for the IU entrepreneurial community, investing to generate significant and long-lasting social and economic impact for IU, Indiana and the world. As such, it works collaboratively across all of IU’s campuses and with multiple IU departments and units to develop the resources necessary to build a pervasive entrepreneurial culture throughout the IU ecosystem.
During the conference, IU Ventures will also present the inaugural Spirit of Venture Award. The award will go to a member of IU’s network of founders and funders who succeeds in entrepreneurship and innovation, provides mentorship and support to IU-affiliated founders and funders, and demonstrates noteworthy service to IU.
Registration for the virtual conference is now open the IU Ventures website. Attendance is free for faculty, student and alumni entrepreneurs, as well as investors, donors and anyone interested in being part of the IU Founders and Funders Network.
Immersing students in the venture capital industry
The Founders and Funders Network Conference reflects IU’s continued efforts to engage its network of entrepreneurs, passionate investors and potential partners in strengthening Indiana’s talent pipeline and economic competitiveness. A new educational program for IU graduate students promises to further expand that network.
IU is currently accepting applications for the IU Ventures Fellows Program, an experiential learning initiative that will immerse entrepreneurial-minded students in the venture capital industry through a combination of classroom instruction, online and in-person seminars, guest lectures, internships and real-time projects. The 12-month fellowship, which will run from January to December each year, will expose IU graduate students to the fundamentals of early-stage business investment, including the processes of deal sourcing and due diligence, while also facilitating their engagement with IU alumni and industry experts currently working in the venture sector.
Neil Powell, director of the MBA Strategic Finance Academy and lecturer in the Masters in Finance Program at IU’s globally renowned Kelley School of Business, will oversee the new IU Ventures Fellows program as executive director of student experiential learning. Before joining the Kelley School, Powell spent nearly 30 years in corporate finance leadership roles, spanning the financial, technology and educational sectors.
Several of the opportunities that the program will make available to students will be made possible by the IU Angel Network, which facilitates connections between IU-affiliated startup companies and prospective investors from among IU’s community of alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends. Additional support for the program, which is modeled after some of the nation’s leading student venture programs, will come from the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, which introduces donors to IU startups, innovations and initiatives.
Advancing Indiana’s signature economic development initiative
The aforementioned initiatives arrive at a time when IU’s campuses and regional education centers across Indiana have been deeply engaged in developing proposals for the state’s signature economic development initiative. The Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, announced by Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb in early 2021, will invest $500 million in projects to improve Indiana’s “quality of place” and “quality of life,” encourage activity in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship, and attract more talent to the Hoosier state.
READI calls upon private employers, educational institutions, economic development groups, philanthropists and others to help Indiana accelerate the economic resilience and growth of regional communities across the state. Early in the program, participating organizations were tasked with organizing into regional communities, with a lead organization responsible for advancing the top proposals to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. IU was involved in this organizing process from the beginning.
Project proposals, which were due on Sept. 30, have been developed by IU’s two core research campuses, IU Bloomington and IUPUI; five regional campuses, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Southwest; two regional centers, IUPUC and IU Fort Wayne, and at least one campus of the IU School of Medicine without an IU campus nearby. These plans will be reviewed in the fall, and the IEDC expects to finalize funding recommendations before the end of 2021.
Seeking innovators to address national security challenges
Registration is now open for the second annual Midwest Defense Innovation Summit, which will be held Oct. 25 and 26 in Indianapolis. This will be a major opportunity for innovators from Indiana University and around Indiana and the nation to learn about the critical national security challenges and the need for new technological solutions to those problems.
The summit will bring enable policymakers and defense leaders to speak with industry, academic and government organizations and provide insight into future defense strategy. Among the event organizers are IN3 (Indiana Innovation Institute), which recently welcomed new IU President Pamela Whitten to its board of directors, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, the National Security Technology Accelerator, Radius Indiana and the National Security Innovation Network.
A personal note of thanks
Though I have been working to tell the IU story for many years, this is my first post for the newly revamped “Innovate Indiana” blog, which readers might remember as the former “Crimson Catalyst” blog.
Despite a name change and some slight cosmetic changes, I hope you’ll continue to check in here for the latest news and information about IU’s ongoing efforts to drive innovation and entrepreneurship here in Indiana and beyond.
Occasionally, I’ll deliver some first-hand reports about IU’s many economic engagement initiatives, which are designed to connect the university’s intellectual and creative resources with the workforce needs of the Hoosier state. Likewise, you can expect to hear from me whenever those initiatives are making a real impact in strengthening Indiana’s economy and quality of life.
Of course, consider this blog a two-way street of information. I would love to hear from you about the issues that matter most to you. Contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org, and thank you for reading!