Indiana University is once again primed to seize the spotlight during Indiana’s “biggest night for innovation.”
Several IU-affiliated entrepreneurs and companies are among the nominees, announced earlier this week by Indianapolis-based TechPoint, for the 2024 Mira Awards, honoring the best of tech in the Hoosier state. They’ll vie for several of TechPoint’s biggest honors while IU continues to unify and strengthen its support for student and faculty entrepreneurship through the just-launched IU Innovates initiative and as its early-stage and venture investment arm, IU Ventures, accelerates the development of high-potential startup companies and innovations with strong IU connections.
TechPoint is the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership’s industry-led growth initiative for Indiana’s digital innovation economy and overall tech ecosystem.
“This impressive showing for Indiana University entrepreneurs and IU-affiliated companies reflects a growing culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across the university,” said Tony Armstrong, associate vice president in the IU Office of University Relations and president and CEO of IU Ventures. “Through several major investments, IU is creating real momentum in accelerating university-generated entrepreneurship, which is infusing vital business activity in the state and enriching the quality of life for people in Indiana and beyond.”
Two IU students are among the five nominees for the Student Entrepreneur of the Year award: Charlie Edmonds, a doctoral student in music education at the IU Jacobs School of Music and founder of Pocket Methods, an educational platform for beginner band and orchestra students incorporating Black gospel music, and Matt Gacek, a sophomore at the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, who recently sold his groundbreaking AI therapy and personal growth app, Theia, to Miri, a San Francisco-Bay-Area-based AI-driven health and wellness platform.
Both Edmonds and Gacek are clients of the Shoebox incubation program, launched and managed by the Shoemaker Innovation Center within the Luddy School to provide student entrepreneurs and innovators the resources to advance their business ideas. The new IU Innovates initiative recently partnered with the center to leverage and expand the incubation program, as well as the Shoemaker Scholars and StartupIU, all of which have been made possible through a generous gift from John and Donna Shoemaker.
“These two exceptional students, Charlie and Matt, have taken advantage of Indiana University’s vast entrepreneurship resources to transform their big ideas into two promising and innovative startup ventures,” said Julie Heath, executive director of IU Innovates. “Their success and the accomplishments of all of the IU-affiliated nominees for this year’s Mira Awards signal that emerging entrepreneurs are a major potential strength for the Hoosier state—a strength that our IU Innovates initiative will maximize.”
Last year’s Student Entrepreneur of the Year, Kerry Ao, a native of Evansville, Indiana, and a freshman Kelley Scholar at the IU Kelley School of Business, is one of four IU-affiliated innovators vying for the “Rising Entrepreneur” award. He is the co-founder of Intertwined, an AI-driven financial education software company. Joining him among the nominees are Kelley School finance alum Anna Dorris, founder and owner of Everewear, a mail-order personalized styling service that uses secondhand clothing; Jean Ross; a IU Bloomington graduate in sociology and the CEO and co-founder of Primary Record, a mobile app that guides individuals and their families in organizing and sharing healthcare information; and Brian Schroeder, an IU Indianapolis graduate with degrees in business administration, public health and health administration, who is the founder and CEO of Preventia, an app that connects people to caregivers who are trained in behavioral change.
Folia, a fast-emerging business annotation startup based in Bloomington, Indiana, founded and led by IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences alumnus Ravi Bhatt, is up for two awards, Tech Innovation of the Year and Startup of the Year. IU Ventures has made milestone investments in Folia through two of its major investment programs, the IU Angel Network and the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, helping advance the company’s development. The company’s first product, iAnnotate, currently serves millions of customers, ranging from Wall Street investors and lawyers to students and Hollywood screenwriters.
Also nominated in two categories is Alleo, of Carmel, Indiana, an interactive content collaboration platform. Alleo is directed by founder and CEO Brandon Fischer, a computer science graduate of IU Bloomington. Alleo is nominated for Tech Innovation Team of the Year and Startup of the Year.
Joining Alleo among the nominees for Tech Innovation Team of the Year is Amplified Sciences, a clinical-stage life sciences diagnostic company built on the innovation of V. Jo Davission, an IU School of Medicine biochemistry graduate and co-founded by by IU Kelley School alumna Diana Caldwell. IU Ventures was an early supporter of Amplified Sciences, and recently participated in a follow-on investment in the company, which is actively collaborating with IU clinicians and researchers.
Among the nominees for Tech Innovation of the Year are ArcticRX of Fishers, Indiana, which was co-founded by IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences graduate Shane Bivens, and Indianapolis-based hc1, which was founded by IU Kelley School alum Brad Bostic.
Three other Indianapolis-based companies with IU connections made the list of nominees, including The Engineered Innovation Group (nominated for Innovation Service Partner of the Year), which is led by CEO and IU Indianapolis graduate Jake Miller; Bereave (Startup of the Year), which was co-founded by IU Kelley School alum Matt Tyner, and Authenticx (Tech Company of the Year), which was founded by Amy Brown, a graduate of IU’s Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses.
All of this year’s winners will be announced during the TechPoint 25th annual awards gala on April 26 at Old National Centre in downtown Indianapolis.