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Elevate Northeast Indiana

GemViz Receives Investment from Elevate Ventures’ Community Ideation Fund

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Story contributed by GemViz

March 28, 2023

GemViz LLC, a med-tech start-up, announced today that it has received an investment from Elevate Ventures’ Community Ideation Fund (CIF). The investment will provide GemViz with the necessary resources to further develop its innovative medical software and bring it to market.

The CIF is designed to support early-stage companies in Indiana who are committed to making a positive impact on their local community. GemViz’s selection for the investment is a testament to the company’s dedication to improving healthcare outcomes and its potential to create jobs and stimulate economic growth in the area.

“We are thrilled to receive this funding from Elevate Ventures’ CIF program,” said Mike Cusick, CEO of GemViz LLC. “This will enable us to advance our technology and bring it one step closer to benefiting patients and healthcare providers. We are thankful for the support available in our community for early-stage start-ups to bring innovative products to market.”

“Our team at KEDCO is excited to see the progress GemViz is making since participating in our MedTech Accelerator Studio last year,” said KEDCO CEO Alan Tio, “We will continue to work alongside partners like Elevate Ventures to identify tools in our economic development toolbox to support the company’s plans moving forward.”

GemViz LLC’s platform is designed to securely integrate all available patient data sources and has the potential to improve diagnostic accuracy and optimize treatment plans. By driving patient engagement and leveraging real-time patient data, this technology can enable healthcare providers to make informed decisions, resulting in better clinical outcomes and improved patient satisfaction.

“Gemviz is enhancing the physician’s understanding of the patient, driving better interactions, diagnosis, and outcomes,” said Dan Meek, Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Elevate Ventures.

GemViz LLC’s receipt of the CIF is a significant milestone in the company’s journey toward bringing its solution to market. The company plans to use the award to deliver a functional prototype and engage customers for product insights.

Elevate Northeast Indiana: Championing Startup Success

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In late 2019, Elevate Northeast Indiana set out to make a difference in the region’s startup ecosystem.

Its goal was to source high-growth, high-potential companies that would garner $15 million in investment from Elevate and other private capital sources. And it did just that. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, community partners supported the initiative leading to the achievement of the goal.

The impact of these investments has been far-reaching. Startups in the region have used this funding to launch new products and services, gain new customers from all over the country, create new jobs and drive innovation. This, in turn, has helped to grow the economy and make the region a more attractive place to live and work. In total, 86 new jobs have been created in Northeast Indiana. 

About Elevate Northeast Indiana 

Elevate Northeast Indiana launched in April 2017 through a collaboration between Elevate Ventures and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. The partnership totaled $2.5 million in funding, with $1 million raised by the region and an additional $1.5 million from Elevate Ventures, aiming to boost entrepreneurship and innovation across the 11-county region. The partnership offers several initiatives under three key concepts: capital, talent, and education. Through various Elevate funds, 26 transactions totaling $5.3 million, with an additional $24 million leveraged from outside capital, have been completed in the region since 2017. 

Dr. Michael Mirro, Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Research Officer at Parkview Health, has served as the Chair of Elevate Northeast Indiana since 2019.  Mirro said, “Elevate Ventures has been a key partner in growing early-stage companies in our region. Our local corporate community has invested along with Elevate Ventures to enhance the success of the Northeast Indiana region.” 

Regional Growth and Advancement 

A growing number of people are choosing to live and start businesses in Northeast Indiana. For example, Allen County’s population grew by 2,716 residents in 2021—more than twice the state rate of 0.3% and five times the national rate of 0.12%. Additionally, in 2022, M25 ranked Fort Wayne at #25 in its Best of the Midwest: Startup Cities Rankings, up four spots from the previous year.  

While Fort Wayne may be the largest and best-known city in the region, it’s by no means the only one in the region that is thriving. A few of the region’s accomplishments and accolades include:   

Impacting the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

To get more insight into the recent growth, we spoke with a few of the businesses and people who have been impacted by the booming entrepreneurial ecosystem across the region. Below are a few of their perspectives:

3BG Supply

3BG Supply, a technology-enabled distributor of industrial MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) products, launched in Fort Wayne in 2014. The company moved its headquarters to The Landing, a vibrant, independent business district in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne, in 2019. CEO Alex Smith noted that advancements in the region have had a major impact on the company’s success, particularly in terms of attracting and retaining top talent.  

“The region’s growth has had a direct and positive effect on our business. For example, we strategically located our business on Columbia Street (The Landing), one of Fort Wayne’s most promising downtown developments,” said Smith. “I’d say it was only natural that we wanted to create a working environment that’s conducive to attracting top talent. We felt that locating the business within the newly redeveloped Landing district afforded us that opportunity. The growth of northeast Indiana—specifically within Fort Wayne and in association with the downtown Fort Wayne riverfront redevelopment—has allowed us to attract, hire and retain top talent.”  

Smith also recognized the region’s culture of collaboration and commitment to supporting entrepreneurs.  

“The essence of an entrepreneurial ecosystem is its people and the culture of trust and collaboration that allows them to interact successfully. An ecosystem that allows for the fast flow of talent, information, and resources helps entrepreneurs quickly find what they need at each stage of growth. The northeast region has been working on the people and culture component for the last 10+ years and it’s paying off. In addition, the low cost of living has allowed for capital efficiency in creating and growing our businesses.”

Traction Ag

Through its cloud-based farm management software, Auburn-based Traction Ag delivers financial solutions to growers across the Midwest. Recently, the startup raised $3 million in seed funding to enhance the functionality and value of its integrated farm accounting and operations application. CEO and co-founder Ian Harley shared his perspective on the region’s economic growth. 


“A culture of success in Northeast Indiana is evident. In Auburn alone, we have seen significant growth in the tech sector. The region has also offered us many networking opportunities, introductions, and mentorship, which have contributed to our success,” said Harley. “Thanks to organizations like DeKalb Chamber, Elevate Ventures, AgriNovus, and the Indiana Economic Development Corp., we’ve received a lot of support.” 

Brian More

As someone who leads several organizations in Northeast Indiana, Brian More is dedicated to the region’s success. His experience as president of Catalyst Ventures, CEO of Nanovis and treasurer on the board of Elevate Northeast Indiana, give him a unique perspective. 

As Brian reflects on the past few years of growth, he observes a couple of themes.  

“One theme is activities that create more collision—or the potential for more collision. Some examples are Parkview Health’s Innovation Summits and pitch competitions, the development of Electric Works, and Elevate Northeast Indiana. These all create an atmosphere where more people can establish connections that may help them along.” 

“The other theme I see is a common pathway within the region, and this goes back to the formation of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. Recently, I’ve seen more of a collective effort because we really all want the same thing. In the entrepreneurial economic development world, I am noticing more alignment and people and organizations working together. They’re not so concerned about themselves as they are about the success of the region. I attribute a lot of that to the partnership—the leadership and what they’ve done over the past decade. It doesn’t matter if it’s Woodland County, Allen County, doesn’t matter what county it’s in, if it’s in the region, we’re all going to win.” 

Elevate Northeast Indiana has had a profound impact on the startup ecosystem in the region. It has shown entrepreneurs that there is a network of people and resources that believe in them and are willing to invest in their success. By collaborating and forming strategic partnerships like Elevate Northeast Indiana, people and organizations alike can learn from each other, resulting in progress that benefits everyone. 

Click here to learn more about Elevate Northeast Indiana.

Traction Ag Announces $3 Million Seed Funding To Further Expand Cloud-Based Farm Accounting And Management Application

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September 20, 2022

Traction Ag Inc., the first cloud-based  farm management software that delivers financial solutions to growers across the midwest, today announced it has raised $3 million in Seed funding. The company will use this investment to bring added functionality and value to its integrated farm accounting and operations application.

The funding round includes participation from Hageman GroupAllos Ventures and Elevate Ventures. In addition, Don Aquilano, co-founder and managing director of Allos Ventures, and Shane Hageman, president of Hageman Investments, will join the Traction Ag Board of Directors. The investment and expansion of the board further enhances Traction Ag’s team, with the company solidifying a renewed commitment to independence and focus on customers/stakeholders.

“The agriculture industry is in the midst of a significant shift in demographics,” said Ian Harley, co-founder and CEO of Traction Ag Inc. “The new generation of farm management wants to be on the cutting-edge of production, and that requires access to real-time farm financial analysis. As the only farm accounting and management solution uniquely built for the cloud, we look forward to providing continued support to growers navigating the new digital ecosystem.”

Traction Ag delivers the most extensive suite of farm-specific accounting capabilities in a cloud application, including accounting, operations and a fully digital payroll that automatically files and pays the grower’s Federal and State payroll taxes.

“Farmers need an easy-to-use system that connects field operations to farm accounting to see accurate field, crop, and total farm profitability. 60% of farmers are using accounting systems that aren’t agriculture specific or disconnected from field operations, therefore missing these valuable farm management insights,” said Shane Hageman, president of Hageman Group.  “Traction Ag automates data collection to save time, improve accuracy, and equip farmers with financial tools to improve their decision making and peace of mind.”

“We view Traction Ag’s farm accounting solution as a long-term investment for a generational change in agriculture,” said Don Aquilano, co-founder and managing partner at Allos Ventures. “As an employee- and farmer-owned company, Traction Ag is the only fully integrated, farm-specific solution serving the needs of today’s generation of progressive growers.”

Traction Ag will use this round of funding to rapidly expand its platform’s capabilities. Its customer success team will also expand to continue to provide excellent service, which remains an important pillar of the company’s overall solution.

To learn more about Traction Ag, please visit

About Traction Ag

Traction Ag is the only farm management solution uniquely built for the cloud, integrating actual accounting numbers with field operations, resulting in real-time financial analysis for timely, informed decision-making. Traction Ag delivers the most extensive suite of farm-specific accounting capabilities in a cloud application and allows users to automatically and easily maintain inventory balances for crops and supplies, providing crucial insights and saving valuable time. The company is an employee- and farmer-owned business and leverages integrations with Climate FieldView and John Deere Operations Center to automate and ease the collection of field activities.

Healthcare Technology Startup Raises Over $1 Million in Seed Funding

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January 18, 2022

Xillum, a business intelligence software-as-a-service company focused on helping healthcare businesses, announced a $1.1 million seed round of investment with participation from Elevate Ventures and angel investors.

Xillum offers a portal to help healthcare companies increase profitability. The company’s technology uses a series of algorithms to analyze data to identify key business metrics as well as opportunities to cut costs.

Xillum’s physician portal

“Xillum’s business intelligence platform will be significant in the radiology market by providing insights to practitioners interested in solving a multitude of operational challenges,” said Dan Meek, Elevate Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence serving Elevate Northeast Indiana, a partnership focused on startups in northeast Indiana. “We’re pleased to have been a part of Xillum’s early success and look forward to seeing it develop further.”

Founded by Eric Beier, M.D., and CEO Joe Wolfcale, Xillum began as a solution for tracking data. While working at a radiology practice, the team wanted to find an easier way to access data and developed a database that automates the process of gathering Health Level Seven (HL7) data in seconds. They also added the ability to track payment and revenue information so radiologists could see key business statistics in a secure online portal.

“The funding we received will allow us to continue the development of our product, to expand our client reach and grow our customer base,” said Wolfcale. “We’re grateful to all of our investors for believing in us.”

Fort Wayne Startup Focused on Managing Biases Receives Funding

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Fort Wayne, Ind. – STRE.ME, a startup focused on reducing the effects of biases within the workplace, today announced that it has raised $270,000 in a pre-seed round led by Techstars and Elevate Ventures with participation from several angel investors.

STRE.ME was launched in 2018 to help organizations simplify the business growth process and improve decision-making. Based on the results of customer discovery research conducted since its launch, STRE.ME pivoted to its current platform of helping business leaders reduce the effects of implicit bias. It is available as a web application that provides personalized and confidential insights for managing biases.

“Backed by peer-reviewed research and documented results, STRE.ME is now positioned to accelerate growth and customer acquisition in our target market while reaching into markets with regulatory drivers for which our platform and mode of delivery is the first of its kind,” said Anne Marie Labenberg, co-founder and chief equity officer. “We are able to meet these industries with progressive technology to change not only the health and outcomes of the organization but that of employees and customers as well.”

“STRE.ME makes it easy for leaders to deliver awareness and accountability to their organizations,” said Dan Meek, Elevate Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence serving Elevate Northeast Indiana. “I’m excited about the level of engagement corporations are experiencing using STRE.ME’s cloud-based solutions.”

The funding will allow STRE.ME to concentrate on onboarding key customers and pave the way for another round of funding to accelerate its sales model.

“As business leaders, we understand how important employee engagement and team dynamics are to building healthy organizations, especially when implicit biases silently influence the way we make decisions, behave, and communicate,” said co-founder and CEO Jack Patton. “Closing this round of funding helps fulfill our mission of creating cultures of awareness and accountability.”

STRE.ME was a recipient of the Community Ideation Fund from Elevate Ventures in 2019. The company participated in the Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator Powered by Techstars in 2021.

Elevate Nexus Grants $200K to Four Higher Education Institutions

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August 11, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug 11, 2021) – Elevate Ventures today awarded $50,000 grants to Ball State UniversityIndiana Institute of Technology (Indiana Tech)Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine and the University of Evansville to support entrepreneurship programming and curriculum. The funding, which is channeled through the Elevate Nexus program, is now in its third and final year. It is designed to strengthen bonds among higher education institutions, community partners and entrepreneurs.

IUPUI, Purdue University, Trine University and the University of Notre Dame received grants in 2019; last year the winners were Butler University, Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Taylor University and the University of Indianapolis.

“With the support of the Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grant Program, Indiana Tech is excited to help engineering entrepreneurs foster new business ideas, create technology-related innovations, conduct market analysis, and launch commercialized products or licensed patents,” said Ying Shang, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences at Indiana Tech. “Indiana Tech is pleased to be part of the community efforts in making changes in Indiana economical ecosystems into a technology-inspired community.”

Proposals submitted by the universities call for varied approaches:

  • Ball State University: Develop an elective cross-disciplinary course connecting Computer Science and Entrepreneurship & Innovation majors, enabling student-led ventures to move from ideation into prototyping and end user-testing.
  • Indiana Institute of Technology (Fort Wayne): Expand entrepreneurial programs and initiatives through the Center for Creative Collaboration (C3), a multidisciplinary entrepreneurship center with focus on connecting business clients with the university.
  • IU School of Medicine (Indianapolis): Launch a web-based innovation platform to evaluate student and clinician business ideas.
  • University of Evansville: Create MakerspACE, a three-pronged entrepreneurial program providing access to innovation for K-16 students.

Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grants are made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration. A total of $600,000 has been awarded. The funding enables higher education institutions to launch and improve programming to support growth of Indiana startups.

“In the last three years, we have seen some exceptional proposals—all of which foster entrepreneurship and innovation across the campus and in the communities they serve,” said Landon Young, executive director of the Elevate Nexus program. “We are seeing the successful execution of programs, the building of cross-campus ecosystems, and high-potential companies starting and growing. I look forward to the future success these universities see from the programming they were able to launch and expand.”

Former head of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, current South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership leader recognized

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Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekley

August 12, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — John Sampson, former CEO and president of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, has been recognized by Elevate Ventures, Indiana’s venture development partner and investment firm, for his help to the group in the Northeast Indiana region.

Sampson received the regional champion recognition as part of the 2020 Elevate Awards, held at Elevate Ventures’ fourth annual Kinetic Conference. He retired in March this year.

John Sampson, former CEO and president of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

In 2020, Elevate chose a regional champion from each partnership region. These individuals go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure growth of entrepreneurship and innovation in their region, according to a news release.

In 2020 Sampson was instrumental in renewing Elevate Northeast Indiana partnership and assisting in efforts to raise $1 million in funding, according to the announcement.

Other regional champions of 2020 include Regina Emberton, president and CEO of South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership for the North-Central region.

“Emberton is the glue holding the Startup South Bend-Elkhart region together with her involvement in various initiatives and committees powering entrepreneurship growth in the region,” according to the announcement.

The awards and winners in the region include:

2020 Region of the Year: Elevate Northeast Indiana

Elevate Northeast generated the highest count and dollar value of Elevate Ventures deals (21 Fund and Indiana Angel Network Fund) from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020.

Elevate Northeast Indiana, a partnership between Elevate Ventures and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, supports entrepreneurs through initiatives including investments, marketing support, business coaching and access to professional resources.

Regional Business of 2020: Nanovis of Columbia City

This award recognizes a business in an Elevate regional partnership region that exhibits current and future positive impact in the community. Each region nominated companies in their respective geographical areas for Elevate’s consideration.

Nanovis is an orthopedic company with multiple technology platforms that aim to drive better outcomes for patients, surgeons and the health care system. Nanovis is product innovative in the spine and orthopedic markets, and has built an excellent go-to market team and has been strategic and effective in managing its resources.

In other Elevate Ventures news:

Elevate Ventures announced Aug. 12 the full launch of the Innovation Voucher Program, providing Indiana startups access to funding for more innovation-driven research and product development capabilities.

The Indiana Voucher Program was initially established in 2019 by legislation and administered primarily by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC). Elevate Ventures’ partnership with IEDC on the program will focus on Indiana-based startups with demonstrated business needs and continued high-growth potential. Startups may be eligible for up to $50,000 in services from qualified Indiana higher education institutions and authorized nonprofit research providers to support research and development, product development, and commercialization.

“Elevate Ventures has a track record of supporting Indiana-based startups through both programmatic engagements and pre-seed, seed and early-stage grant or investment funds,” said Ting Gootee, Elevate Ventures chief investment officer, in a news release. “We are excited to have this particular program in our management portfolio and look forward to leveraging it toward the highest impact on our entrepreneurship community.”

The program will be open to applications a few times a year. The current application is open through Sept. 17. For full eligibility details, go to

To apply for Innovation Voucher Program funding, go to

Startup Financing Lifts Aviation Firm

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August 3, 2021

Warsaw, Ind.  — SimpleSortie, a startup firm with ambitions to connect air travelers to private aircraft operators, has received a $20,000 investment from the Elevate Ventures Community Ideation Fund.

SimpleSortie will enable consumers to book flights with private aircraft operators at lower cost and greater convenience. Improving transparency and squeezing out inefficiencies can enable operators to offer flights at increased margins and reduced expenses to travelers.

The company will use the funds to create a sellable product, expand its research and marketing efforts, and prepare for future investment.

Dan Meek, Elevate Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence serving Elevate Northeast Indiana, said, “SimpleSortie wants to change the way we see private aviation through more choices and better logistics. The company is bringing a better customer experience through its simple to use platform.”

Founder Ryan Srogi noticed room for improvement earlier in his career when he flew as a corporate pilot. Now he aims to scale his insights.

“The Community Ideation Fund is a key first step to SimpleSortie’s growth,” Srogi said. “It validates the concept and provides runway for initial stages.”

Federal Match Program for Indiana Business Expanded

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July 27, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS – Elevate Ventures today announced the expansion of its Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) matching program, giving Indiana companies more access to early-stage funding.

Elevate, which manages the SBIR/STTR program in partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corp., now supports Phase II matching in addition to its longtime support for Phase I.

The SBIR/STTR program is designed to address federal needs for research and development (R&D), as well as to drive technological innovation. The funding is available through 11 federal agencies.

Phase I is used to establish feasibility and potential for R&D efforts and to evaluate company performance and is matched 50% by Elevate.

Further support can be sought through Phase II, which is used to continue the R&D initiated in Phase I. As of July 2021, Elevate will match up to $75,000 per Phase II award and $150,000 per company. Unlike Phase I matching, which comes in the form of a grant, the Phase II match is a standard convertible note.

“The SBIR/STTR program is one of the largest sources of funding for innovation-driven companies at their earliest stage of development,” said Ting Gootee, chief investment officer at Elevate Ventures. “This additional support provides another edge for Indiana companies to compete nationally.”

For fiscal year 2020-2021, 25 companies received $1.3 million in funding from Indiana’s SBIR/STTR matching program, in addition to nearly $6 million in federal Phase I grants. These companies are:

  • Advanced Science and Automation Corp., Indianapolis
  • Akanocure Pharmaceuticals Inc., West Lafayette
  • BDYWR LLC, West Lafayette
  • Consensus Networks LLC, South Bend
  • Continuity Pharma LLC, West Lafayette
  • Engine Research Associates Inc., Fort Wayne
  • Eperture LLC, Columbus
  • Flightprofiler LLC, Newton
  • Grannus Therapeutics LLC, Indianapolis
  • Health Smart Technologies Inc., Zionsville
  • Heliponix LLC, Evansville
  • infoSentience, Bloomington
  • Miftek Corporation, West Lafayette
  • Multiscale Integrated Technology Solutions LLC, Carmel
  • Next Offset Solutions, Inc., West Lafayette
  • Ocella, Inc. (d/b/a Ateios), Newberry
  • Pierce Aerospace LLC, Carmel
  • RightFit Analytics Inc., West Lafayette
  • Spirrow Therapeutics LLC, West Lafayette
  • Star Voltaic LLC, Indianapolis
  • Terran Robotics, Bloomington
  • Trek10 Inc., South Bend
  • Valgotech LLC, Indianapolis
  • Vasculonics Inc., Indianapolis
  • Vennli Inc., South Bend

To apply for Phase I or Phase II matching dollars, support letters or assistance, please click here.