Yesterday, March 10, marked another milestone in the development of the Indiana Uplands, an 11-country region in south-central Indiana that includes Monroe County, home to Indiana University’s Bloomington campus. And once again, IU is playing a central role in a breakthrough event for a region committed to advancing economic prosperity and well-being for the citizens who call it home.
As announced by Regional Opportunity Initiatives, yesterday’s launch of the new Uplands Science and Technology Foundation is expected to enhance the vitality of WestGate@Crane Technology Park. The park, which is located outside the gates of Naval Support Activity Crane, the 3rd largest naval installation in the world, is currently home to more than 50 organizations — many with roots in the high-tech and defense industry sectors — and more than 850 employees.
The USTF will lead the continued physical development of WestGate as an innovation district and grow the park’s capabilities in emerging technology areas such as microelectronics, artificial intelligence and hypersonics.
Joe Carley, who currently serves as the director for economic development within IU’s Office of the Vice President for Government Relations and Economic Engagement and the director for strategic partnerships at the IU Center for Rural Engagement, will serve as the USTF’s interim CEO. Carley will lead USTF on a loan basis from IU.
“I’m honored to serve the Uplands region in this role and to build on the work of the many partners who have helped make WestGate Technology Park a unique asset for our state,” Carley said. “Throughout the process of creating USTF, we’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best minds in the country on building innovation communities, and I believe that we have a roadmap for WestGate that has the potential to be transformative for the region and the state.”
IU Vice President for Government Relations and Economic Engagement Bill Stephan added, “IU has a deep interest in ensuring that the regions around our campuses grow and prosper. We are pleased to be able to provide support for this important initiative and look forward to seeing USTF become a vital partner for Crane and the Indiana economic development community.”
IU continues to join with other educational and research institutions, elected officials, and business and community leaders in supporting the continued growth of WestGate’s innovation ecosystem and working collaboratively with ROI, NSA Crane, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, and other organizations to strengthen a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across the Indiana Uplands region.
This past December, the Indiana Uplands region was selected to receive $30 million in funding from the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative. IU campuses and regional education centers have deeply engaged in READI from the start of this ambitious program, and IU leaders have worked in close collaboration with ROI, Radius Indiana and other partners across the state on project proposals to enhance economic development and quality of life in communities across the Hoosier state.
Last fall, IU renewed its commitment to a longstanding partnership with NSA Crane that has engaged IU students and faculty in numerous research projects designed to address regional issues concerning economic development, education, energy management, environmental science, land conservation, public health and sustainability.
IU also continues to engage in significant research activity with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, which is located at NSA Crane. These include projects related to artificial intelligence, machine learning, programmable circuit boards and quantum information processing in service of national defense.
Finally, through its Sustaining Hoosier Communities initiative, the IU Center for Rural Engagement has partnered with five Indiana Uplands counties (Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Orange and Washington) on projects to address issues concerning health and wellness, infrastructure planning and natural resource management. Hundreds of IU students and faculty have participated in the initiative, now in its fifth year, which has become one of the largest rural engagements of its kind in the nation. It was honored, in 2019, with the inaugural Outstanding Program of the Year award by the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network.
Read more on the launch of the new Uplands Science and Technology Foundation and IU’s involvement in this new initiative.