Earlier today, Indianapolis-based growth accelerator TechPoint unveiled the nominees for its 24th annual Mira Awards, which honor the “Best in Tech” in Indiana. Continuing a recent trend, this year’s nominees reflect Indiana University’s successful efforts to advance high-potential startup companies with strong university affiliations, while also contributing to the expansion of Indiana’s technology ecosystem.
Among this year’s Mira Awards nominees are three young companies that are part of the growing investment portfolio of IU Ventures, IU’s early-stage venture and angel investment arm. Each of the companies, Adipo Therapeutics of Indianapolis, Fishers-based spokenote, and Civic Champs of Bloomington, will be featured in the “Product Innovation of the Year” category, which honors scientific achievements, tech R&D efforts and other trailblazing discoveries.
Additionally, Ravi Bhatt, co-founder and CEO of Bloomington-based Folia, another IU Ventures portfolio company, was nominated for the “Rising Entrepreneur Award.” This is the second consecutive year Bhatt will compete for the award, which recognizes Indiana’s most exceptional non-student startup founders or operators of any age and experience.
The Mira Awards are Indiana’s largest, best-known and most prestigious technology awards. Past award-winners and nominees alike have gone on to become the state’s greatest tech successes. In delivering its announcement, TechPoint praised the year’s class of nominees, which includes individuals, educators, community organizations, state agencies, investors, entrepreneurs and tech employers. Collectively, the 78 nominees employ more than 57,000 Hoosiers and represent more than $20 billion in annual revenue.
The awards will once again shine a spotlight on IU’s active engagement to build a pervasive culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across Indiana through its focus on assisting IU students, faculty, staff and alums with advancing high-potential new venture opportunities.
Two years ago, IU Ventures was named 2021 Investor of the Year for its efforts to invest in and support diverse Indiana startups. It was also recognized as “one of the most active funding sources in the state during the pandemic.”
Last spring, Indianapolis-based Encamp, an award-winning environmental compliance data management and reporting company, competed at the Mira Awards for “Tech Product of the Year.” IU Ventures was the first “institutional” investor in Encamp, and to date, it has invested more than $775,000 in the pioneering company, which was co-founded in 2017 by Luke Jacobs and Daniel Smedema, graduates of IU Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The latest Mira Award nominees represent two of the more recent additions to the IU Ventures investment portfolio, Folia and Adipo Therapeutics.
Folia was founded by College of Arts and Sciences alumnus Ravi Bhatt, who recently relocated his fast-emerging business annotation startup from Chicago to Bloomington. As the company’s CEO, he plans to dramatically expand Folia’s workforce with the support of a milestone investment by two of IU Ventures’ major investment programs, the IU Angel Network and the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund. Together, the two programs contributed more than half of Folia’s recent $2 million seed funding round.
Earlier this year, IU Ventures invested $150,000 in Adipo Therapeautics, a pre-clinical stage company that has developed a breakthrough technology to treat metabolic diseases, including type two diabetes mellitus and obesity. Adipo is led by Karen Wurster, an IU Kelley School of Business alumna with over 25 years of experience in developing and commercializing billion-dollar diabetes products.
Bhatt and Wurster will join fellow award nominee Gene Wang, CEO and co-founder of volunteer and mentorship management platform Civic Champs, as featured speakers at the IU Founders & Funders Network Venture Summit, to be held May 18-19 at the IU Bloomington campus. The annual event brings together the best of IU’s startup community, providing its members with the opportunity to find industry experts, educational content, talent, investor partnerships, mentorship and other resources they need to advance their businesses.
By the time of the summit, they will know whether they need to add one more line to their list of accomplishments. Mira Award nominees will present their cases and be interviewed by judges in March. Award winners will be announced during an in-person gala at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Indianapolis on April 22.