Renewed Entrepreneurship Initiative Attracts New Funders

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Elevate Ventures

March 31, 2021

Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures and Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership today announced a three-year renewal of Elevate Northeast Indiana.

Elevate Northeast Indiana launched in April 2017 with $2.5 million raised as a partnership between Elevate Ventures and the Regional Partnership to boost entrepreneurship and innovation across the 11-county region.

Initiatives within the partnership include investments in local high-growth, high-potential businesses, portfolio services, events for entrepreneurs and investors, business coaching, access to professional resources and more. Since the partnership launched, 16 transactions have been completed through various Elevate programs totaling $3.7 million. Companies receiving the investments currently employ approximately 125 people.

“We are excited to continue the great work of Elevate Northeast Indiana with the continuation of the partnership between the Regional Partnership and Elevate Ventures,” said Dr. Michael Mirro, Elevate Northeast Indiana board chair. “Our corporate investors are integral and truly catalyze the growth and success of the northeast Indiana communities by investing in our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Elevate Northeast Indiana plans to continue carrying out its core mission by focusing on high-growth, high-potential businesses. Also, the previously announced partnership between Elevate Northeast Indiana and Eleven Fifty Academy, a non-profit coding academy, will continue to expand across the region and support the local business community by training new cybersecurity and programming talent.

“I believe this partnership is crucial for Northeast Indiana to be a leader in our state as we focus on innovation and entrepreneurship as a key driver of high-skill, high-wage jobs, building new headquarters and attracting and keeping our talent,” said Chris LaMothe, CEO of Elevate Ventures.

Thus far the partnership has received commitments totaling over $800,000; fundraising continues with the goal of reaching $1 million. Several funders renewed their commitments and the initiative garnered support from new donors as well.

Current funders include:

“Ruoff Mortgage is proud to partner with Elevate Ventures in helping the organization further its mission of fueling innovation and supporting entrepreneurship in Indiana,” said Ruoff Chief Financial Officer Sarah Earls. “As a growing company led by entrepreneur Mark Music, we know firsthand the positive impact the growth of young companies can have on our community through job creation that retains and brings talented individuals to our state.”

“Lake City Bank is committed to the economic growth and vitality of Northeast Indiana and we are pleased to continue our long relationship with the Elevate Ventures team,” said David Findlay, president and CEO of Lake City Bank. “Lake City Bank and Elevate Ventures share a vision of the future for our region, and it is built upon a foundation of entrepreneurial aspirations in our communities. We’re excited to partner with Elevate and look forward to bringing together to build on our shared confidence in the future of the region.”

Click here to apply for Elevate Ventures’ investment and advisory services.

Medical Device Startup Secures Seed Funding

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Medical Device Startup Secures Seed Funding

| Inside Indiana Business

February 26, 2021

WARSAW – A Warsaw-based medical device startup has closed on a $400,000 seed round of funding. Eclipse Orthopaedics says it will use the funding, along with previous grant awards, to accelerate product development toward receiving clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The funding round was led by Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures, with participation from First Leaf Capital in Illinois.

Eclipse is developing a device to help surgeons perform distal locking, which involves placing a rod to improve healing from a fractured bone. The company says the device is a radiographic targeting attachment that gives surgeons better visibility to drill pilot holes, improving accuracy and reducing operating time.

“This investment will allow us to improve our design and make critical tests that will demonstrate the value to our surgeon customers. As a first-time entrepreneur, I did not know how to navigate the world of seed-stage investment,” said David Rich, founder and chief executive officer of Eclipse. “Elevate showed me how to get it done. With Elevate and First Leaf Capital on board, we can focus on developing the product.”

In 2018, the National Institutes of Health awarded a SBIR/STTR Phase 1 grant, with matching funds from Elevate Ventures, which was used to build a prototype.

Rich says the company is pursuing a Phase II grant to build another prototype for testing and working toward regulatory approval.

Eleven Fifty Launches Coding Bootcamp in Fort Wayne

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| INside Indiana Business

February 10, 2021

Indianapolis-based nonprofit Eleven Fifty Academy is taking its computer coding bootcamp to Fort Wayne in a joint effort with Elevate Ventures and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

The organizations created Elevate Northeast Indiana, an initiative to spur investment in local high-growth, high-potential businesses, and to support entrepreneurs.

(photo courtesy of Eleven Fifty Academy)

As part of the effort, the organization is trying to enhance the technology pool of skilled workers in the field of information technology.

Dr. Michael Mirro, chair of Elevate Northeast Indiana, has been a driving force to bring the coding bootcamp to the area to upskill individuals into sustainable careers.

“Eleven Fifty Academy graduates are already part of our economy and we are working on creating more opportunities for our residents to upskill into tech careers,” said Mirro.

Eleven Fifty Academy operates intensive coding classes which typically run for 12-to-24 weeks and where students are immersed in the curriculum.

“I work with early-stage companies in need of tech talent every day,” said Dan Meek, entrepreneur-in-residence at Elevate Ventures. “Eleven Fifty Academy will be a great resource and technology advisor to help continue the development and acceleration of new business in the region.”

The funds provided by Elevate Northeast Indiana and corporate partners will be matched by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to provide a total of $500,000 in the form of tuition support. Bootcamp students who qualify will be able to apply for zero-interest financial aid that is only paid back once the student is hired.

ELEVATE PERSPECTIVE: The Importance of Resilience

What can a Bay Area job get you in Fort Wayne? A remote worker for Netflix shares his experience

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What can a Bay Area job get you in Fort Wayne? A remote worker for Netflix shares his experience

| Input Fort Wayne

October 28, 2020

If the COVID pandemic has an upside, it could be the realization of how easy it is for employees to work remotely. And if they can work remotely, that often means they can work anywhere, keeping jobs with high salary potential, but living where costs are cheaper.

Tim Harvey brought his Netflix job with him to Fort Wayne two years ago. He continues working remotely for the Silicon Valley-based employer.

Such an opportunity presented itself to Tim Harvey about two years ago. He had been working in Silicon Valley when his aging parents needed him to move back home to Fort Wayne where he and his wife grew up. Since then, he has been able to relocate his family while continuing to work from home.

Harvey is a Senior Site Reliability Engineer for Netflix. His team is responsible for ensuring the reliability, uptime, and innovation side of operations for the streaming media service provider.

“When there’s an issue with the Netflix service—the streaming side of things—we get paged in to do instant management, coordination, and communication for those kinds of situations,” he says.

He and his team then follow up on the issue, and report back with any lessons learned, creating a feedback loop to help engineers understand ways they, “can continue to move fast and continue to innovate, but also do that in a way that keeps our service reliable.”

Two years into his remote work, Harvey says working from home has been great for him and his family.

“I miss the face-to-face time (of being in an office),” he says, “but I find that working remotely has been a nice balance generally where there’s some time face-to-face. Mostly I can put my head down and work, avoid commute, spend more time with my family, and appreciate all of those things. I’m a person who enjoys quiet.”

It’s also helped his family save money. He and his wife have three school-aged daughters. Bringing them to Fort Wayne gave the family an opportunity to have a higher standard of living and be closer to extended family.

“We love the folks—friends and neighbors—we had in California,” Harvey says, “but there’s always a sense of uncertainty in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area where the rent is incredibly high, so you may not be able to renew your lease. You might be moving, which means changing schools. Coming to Fort Wayne was definitely a choice for some stability.”

Moving to Northeast Indiana means more space for the family to stretch out, too. Each of Harvey’s daughters now has her own bedroom—and her own pet.

“Those sorts of little tangible things, as well as intangible things like being close to family, seeing folks that they missed (are great),” he says. “They’ve really enjoyed the schools and the friends that they’ve made here. It’s felt really comfortable.”

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, in collaboration with the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, offers a Cost of Living Calculator on the Partnership’s website. Users enter their base salaries in the first field, then select where they’re moving from and where in Indiana they are moving to. If someone living in San Jose, Calif., is making $50,000 and keeps that salary, but moves to the Fort Wayne–Allen County area, that person can save 72.76 percent in housing, 28.74 percent in groceries, and 15.73 percent on healthcare.

These are the types of benefits that can tip the scales for families and individuals on the coasts to relocate to Fort Wayne, says Rachel Blakeman, Director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

“Realistically, this change in the work dynamic and the opportunity to work from home all of the time—especially for these large Bay Area companies—is really going to be a great opportunity to bring people back to Northeast Indiana who already have connections here,” Blakeman says. “It could be an opportunity for people who have a lake cottage in Kosciusko, Noble, Steuben, or LaGrange counties. You might then decide you want to live in your lake cottage year-round. Or if you have a situation where you’ve been thinking about moving back to Wells County or Allen County because you have family there, but you’ve got a great job in the Bay Area, Seattle, or Portland, and now that company is allowing you to work from home permanently, then you may decide to come back home.”

Blakeman says it will be a year or so before the data comes in telling just how many people have migrated to Northeast Indiana from other locales since the onset of COVID-19. The data is not tracked in real-time. She advises people to have realistic expectations, though, about any type of mass migration to the area.

“While there’s a possibility of us receiving folks who are now given the opportunity to move to wherever they would like,” she says, “I think the actual number is actually going to be marginal in terms of scale of what we’re looking at. I think your best bet is going to be to recruit back local talent to live here.”

Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Indiana announces 2020 Torch Award recipients

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Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Indiana announces 2020 Torch Award recipients

Better Business Bureau

November 9, 2020

BBB Serving Northern Indiana, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is proud to announce the businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations receiving the 2020 Torch Award, recognizing the honorees for exemplifying the highest of marketplace ethics. All award winners demonstrate a high level of trust among their team members, their customers and their communities.

Jack Patton and Anne Marie Labenberg (center) of, BBBIN’s 2020 Entrepreneur of Integrity Torch Award Recipient, in partnership with Elevate Northeast Indiana.

This years’ winners join a select group of only 84 other companies in Northern Indiana companies and individuals that have received this prestigious recognition by BBB since the Torch Awards began in 2006.

BBB chose to celebrate each honoree with an in-person award presentation due to COVID-19 restrictions on large-scale events. Award recipients received their personalized trophy, an outdoor display banner and cookies from BBB A+ rated Cookie Cottage.

“The BBB is an expert in recognizing and promoting trustworthy businesses, and we believe it is essential to celebrate those businesses that are models of ethical practices. The 2020 honorees stood out to our independent panel of judges as those that work to promote trust, integrity and an ethical marketplace,” said Marjorie Stephens, President and CEO of BBB Serving Northern Indiana. “BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust and we’re honored to celebrate those businesses that “Do It Right!”

2020 Torch Award recipients are:

2020 Businesses of Integrity

2020 Entrepreneur of Integrity, chosen in partnership with Elevate Northeast:

2020 Charity of Integrity

2020 Pillar of the Community

The 2020 Torch Awards were generously sponsored by BBB Accredited Businesses: Paul Davis NortheastWANE TVPreferred Auto GroupNew Haven PrintingSweetwater and Chuck and Lisa Surack, Indiana Wesleyan University National & Global and Momper Insulation.

Meet Elevate Ventures EIR Dan Meek

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Elevate EIR Dan Meek “In a startup you will likely wear many different hats, sometimes several in just one day.”

| Elevate Ventures

November 16, 2020

With experience on all sides of entrepreneurship, Dan Meek’s background is a great fit for helping and empowering entrepreneurs. Based in Fort Wayne, Dan works as Entrepreneur-in-Residence serving the Elevate Northeast Indiana region. Before Elevate, Dan’s roles included President of Seneca Business Ventures and Vice President of Venture Development at Rev1 Ventures. Dan has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio Northern University and a Master of Business Administration from Capital University.

Dan Meek, Entrepreneur in Residence for Elevate Ventures

In your role as an EIR, what are key areas you consistently work on with entrepreneurs?

Every entrepreneurial team is different. Many first-time founders can benefit from a surrounding network of advisors (legal, financial, technology, etc.), and should always be seeking solid connections and guidance.

I find that many technical founders need assistance on financial matters for their business. I like to advise companies to begin building their due diligence data rooms very early, as getting information organized for investors will benefit them significantly. This helps identify the gaps, and often these gaps are in financial documents.

Tell me about your experience as an entrepreneur.

I had the most amazing experience in the medical device/specialty pharma industry. It was in the field of respiratory drug delivery, and I had the pleasure of working with so many sharp individuals in the pharmaceutical industry. My company was involved in respiratory drug delivery, and the development of new devices and therapies for lung cancer, asthma, and other pulmonary diseases.

My experience included everything from leadership of product development teams, client relationship and project management, to regulatory and clinical trial support. Seeing patients try new therapies in a clinical setting was very rewarding, and I will always cherish that opportunity. I try to take that experience into my work today with entrepreneurs, sharing the lessons I learned to enable their businesses.

“Seeing patients try new therapies in a clinical setting was very rewarding, and I will always cherish that opportunity. I try to take that experience into my work today with entrepreneurs, sharing the lessons I learned to enable their businesses.”
From your experience, what is something you feel you learned the hard way?

Two things: One, assume the role of your company’s hardest critic. If you can’t see the weaknesses of your company, your customers, partners, or investors will.

And two, perception is reality. It doesn’t matter how cool your technology is. If you are perceived to be a person in the wrong role in your company, it will impact your ability to sell, raise capital, lead, etc. If you truly are in the wrong role, don’t be afraid to change it by attracting the right talent to your company.

You have a great deal of experience in working with medical device companies. What are one or two of the most common challenges medical device startups can face?

Medical device companies generally must raise capital to get to market, and as such, will be in the position of convincing others to invest in their business. So personality, style, intelligence, ability to listen, and being organized are essential for leaders in these types of companies.

I would also advise founders in medical device companies to recognize that they may not be the CEO of the company for each stage of the company and to be ready to attract the types of leaders needed. In my startup experience, the company went through several phases and had several leadership changes. Be prepared for this, as adapting to change is very important in a startup.

Have you faced these challenges, and if so, what is your advice to help entrepreneurs overcome those challenges?

I held several positions in my startup, from project management, engineering, product development leadership, to even regulatory affairs. The company required flexibility and persons with initiative and drive to do what was needed for the best of the company. In a startup you will likely wear many different hats, sometimes several in just one day! My advice to entrepreneurs is to be open to change, be open to being flexible, and be open to turning over certain functions to others without letting ego get in the way. Remember the primary goal is to get to market and make a difference. That will keep you focused.

What’s the most rewarding part of working in your region?

I really enjoy exploring Indiana and meeting so many people engaged in the development of new products, solutions, and ideas. The Midwest has a long history of invention and innovation and this is still happening today. The northeast Indiana region in particular has a strong entrepreneurial community and a great deal of talent. The entrepreneurs I work with here are hard-working, resourceful, and committed to driving growth.

I’m naturally quite inquisitive, so I enjoy learning about new businesses in the region – working closely with entrepreneurs, rolling up my sleeves, and enabling deep discussion on the business, industry, alternative approaches, etc., being deep in or an extension of the business.


“My advice to entrepreneurs is to be open to change, be open to being flexible, and be open to turning over certain functions to others without letting ego get in the way..”
How do you see the region changing or evolving over the next five years (or more)?

Cities and regions are changing significantly all over America right now. In northeast Indiana, I see an intentional movement to position the region for growth of new business, jobs and opportunity. From area revitalization projects to expansion of businesses in more rural areas, northeast Indiana seems to be focused on building on its strengths, and the community leaders are very supportive of entrepreneurial initiatives.

In my first year with Elevate Northeast Indiana, I’ve seen over $3 million invested by Elevate Ventures and other sources in early stage startups across the region. With the deals currently within our pipeline and the companies I know who are raising capital at this time I think it’s realistic that that number will be over $5 million by year end. I am also seeing early stage companies from outside the region inquire/move to northeast Indiana. Building on this with even more speed will bring a big impact to the region so I would encourage everyone reading this to contact me with your next big opportunity.

Which 1-2 resources in your region (or Indiana) do you consistently direct entrepreneurs to take advantage of and why?

I generally don’t limit to just regional resources when there are so many across the entire state of Indiana available to entrepreneurs. Many of the businesses we invest in serve very large market opportunities in the US and globally, so one must keep in mind when searching for resources. Northeast Indiana has many entrepreneurial support organizations, and local economic development organizations that want to assist startups, so I often recommend these resources.

In addition, I know of many efforts to bring additional resources to the northeast Indiana region so stay tuned for future announcements that will help you as you grow your business.

ELEVATE PERSPECTIVE: The Medical Device Startup

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ELEVATE PERSPECTIVE: The Medical Device Startup

| Entrepreneur-In-Residence, Northeast Indiana

September 10, 2020

Medical devices intersect engineering, chemistry, science and human health. The industry can be perfect for an engineer, marketing professional, CEO, scientist or technician to build a career on.

In my 20-plus years of working with medical device companies, I have heard much advice given to entrepreneurs about how to build a startup.

Dan Meek, EIR for Elevate Northeast Indiana

This includes everything from companies involved in the replacement of human tissue, medical diagnostics, imaging, pharmaceuticals and drug delivery devices. For a medical device company developing Class I devices like surgical instruments to Class II and Class III devices like ventilators and pacemakers, the amount of information out there can be overwhelming. As an entrepreneur, your passion will drive you through the countless articles, peer-reviewed studies, discussions and general advice you will receive as you navigate your company’s path. Some might say the best advice is to let that passion be your guide because no matter how much advice you receive, there will always be unforeseen obstacles. But given that your medical device startup journey could envelop nearly a decade of your career, perhaps some thought-provoking remarks will help you establish a clearer path to success.

For the Team Raising Capital

During my experience as a medical device professional, I heard the phrase that developing drug products is “not for the weak or the cheap.” (Note: Medical devices can be regulated as a drug product in situations where the device controls a patient’s drug dosage). Generally, medical device firms will require up to $20 million to $25 million from inception to exit. There are examples of companies raising $40 million to $50 million, and a few may require $80 million to $100 million to reach an exit. The challenge for medical device companies is to align development and clinical plans with all associated uncertainties, to the capital access plans to achieve a seamless flow of advancement. Extremely well thought out plans, with contingencies and noted potential areas of delay, will provide investors a comprehensive look at the full opportunity.

RECOMMENDATION: Build best, base and worst-case timelines and use the scenarios to determine the impact on development costs, market launch and overall value creation. Doing so will demonstrate your team’s experience and ability to direct the company.

Product Development Team

As an investor who seeks opportunities in medical devices, I am always encouraged when I see good communication and alignment between the management team and the product development and engineering teams. My experience in medical devices has taught me that management teams must clearly communicate to the product development teams in order to succeed. Engineering teams can overlook the business needs when engrossed in the design phase of an innovative medical device. For example, an engineer may be evaluating two design options, one with a higher component and assembly cost. Good engineering economic analysis and design reviews must be considered, but in a startup burning tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, the engineer may overlook the fact that significant delays could deplete funds and “down round” future financing. Clear communications on company burn rate, runway and critical dates will give product development teams what they need to work through design considerations expediently.

A CEO of a startup once said to me, “The science is proven. Now it is just engineering left to complete.” Although this quote indicates pathway advancement, the CEO lacked the awareness of risks and development costs associated with designing the product. Many of the large costs associated with a medical device company are tied to engineering and achieving a final design version for manufacturing. Medical devices must diagnose properly; treat safely and effectively; and be manufactured to provide the same performance (within defined specifications) each time, for each device manufactured. This is no small feat, and engineers, chemists and other scientific professionals are often challenged to meet design specifications that many people don’t think about.

For example, ambient air pressure varies with altitude. In the U.S., we have hospitals in places like Louisiana (low altitude) and Colorado (high altitude). If air pressure can impact the performance of a medical device, engineers must account for this in the design, and test the device in these atmospheric conditions. Design verification testing can be a lengthy process of device development, especially if design issues are found, and should be accounted for early in a company’s plans.

RECOMMENDATION: Be realistic about development timelines and understand the impact of design development on the overall plan to obtain market launch. If you don’t know, seek the guidance of experienced product development professionals.

Intellectual Property

Patent applications, patent filings and issued patents are essential components of a medical device company. Trade secrets are also highly valuable. But first-time medical device entrepreneurs often overlook the need and associated costs with patentability assessments, and freedom-to-operate legal opinions that can influence an investor’s interest in a company. Intellectual property legal services can be expensive, but they are essential in this industry.

RECOMMENDATION: Find the right intellectual property counsel early. Ask for recommendations, ask for referrals, interview firms and look for the right attorney to represent your company based on the match of skill sets and experience to your company’s focus. If your device relies heavily on chemistry, find an attorney who also specializes in chemistry. Your patent applications will be stronger, and so will your company.

Quality Assurance and Medical Device Regulations

The medical device industry is regulated by strict standards, including FDA’s 21 CFR Parts 11 and 820, Quality System Regulation (QSR) and ISO 13485. For those in the industry, this is well understood.

RECOMMENDATION: Always communicate the importance and impact of these regulations to investors and how they specifically impact the business and medical device being developed by the company. This accomplishes two things:

1) Confidence: It clearly demonstrates the thoroughness of the company executives and their experience;

2) Communication: It helps justify the company’s development plans, costs and timeline to interested investors.

It is so easy to gloss over this point, but I advise companies to take this seriously as it can lead to significant delays in regulatory approval, thus impacting the financial health of the company.

Regulatory and Reimbursement Strategy

These two topics are likely the most important areas of consideration for a new medical device startup. Volumes have been written on these subjects. In the past, obtaining regulatory clearance for a medical device was viewed as the ultimate achievement toward navigating toward a successful exit, but in more recent years successful commercialization including a reimbursement has become increasingly important. Regardless of the stage of your company, being able to communicate the regulatory strategy for your device, as well as plans to obtain medical reimbursement for the company, or for your customers, is very important to raising capital.

RECOMMENDATION: Interview several regulatory and reimbursement professionals and seek those with particular experience in the industry in which you plan to launch your product.


As mentioned, one can easily devote a decade to building their career on a medical device startup. Years ago, the average time to exit for a medical device company was around seven years, but recent data suggests this now stands at about 10 years. Given this, medical device startups should pay close attention to the status or age of a venture capital fund, as newly formed funds will likely be the most active on new opportunities, while funds nearing the end of their active investment period will be seeking later-stage investment opportunities.


Medical device startups offer very rewarding career opportunities. I talk about my experience often, as it was a highlight of my career, and in an industry that I hold a passion for today. As an investor working with medical device entrepreneurs, this view is commonly shared. The impact one can make for a patient, or for the healthcare industry in general, makes medical devices an attractive entrepreneurial and investor area of pursuit.

Dan Meek serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for northeast Indiana. He most recently served as President of Seneca Business Ventures, a commercialization and innovation consultancy. He also was Vice President of Venture Development and Director of Bioscience Commercialization at Rev1 Ventures. His background has focused on commercialization, early-stage investments, and new ventures.

Fort Wayne Wins Community of the Year Award

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Fort Wayne Wins Community of the Year Award

| Inside INdiana Business

September 8, 2020

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has named Fort Wayne the 2020 PNC Community of the Year. Greater Fort Wayne Inc. says the statewide award can be attributed to the city’s quality of life improvements, new business investment and job growth.

Photo courtesy of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Chamber officials highlighted the city’s improvements to Promenade Park, renovations on The Landing, and The Bradley boutique hotel during the judging process.

“As the state’s second-largest city, Fort Wayne continues to gain prominence as an outstanding place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “It’s a testament to the dedication of business and community leaders in attracting new talent, retaining top talent, and enhancing quality of life.”

GFW says it has seen improvements in its ability to attract and retain talent. Citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Allen County posted a net positive of nearly 1,500 residents via net domestic migration in 2019, its best year on record and third consecutive year with a positive number.

The county also added nearly 1,200 new jobs and more than $52 million in new annual payroll last year.

“This award is an achievement for everyone in Fort Wayne and Allen County,” said John Urbahns, president of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. “We have worked together to not only transform downtown Fort Wayne, but to upgrade our neighborhoods, enhance our rural communities, and grow jobs and wages. We’ve come a long way, but we must keep improving to reach our goal of becoming a nationally recognized economy.”

Fort Wayne will be presented the honor at the chamber’s 31st Annual Awards program to be held virtually on November 10.

Grants Awarded to Indiana Higher Education Institutions to Support Entrepreneurial Programming

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Grants Awarded to Indiana Higher Education Institutions to Support Entrepreneurial Programming


September 2, 2020

Four universities in Indiana have been awarded a total of $200,000 in grants to launch and improve entrepreneurship programming within their institutions and communities.

The 2020 Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grant recipients were Butler University, Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington, Taylor University and the University of Indianapolis. Each received $50,000.

Grant proposals included strategies regarding how the higher education institution would locate, cultivate and educate innovation-driven entrepreneurs; how the community would be engaged; and how the programming would continue beyond the life of the grant. Grant recipients were selected by Elevate Ventures and Elevate Nexus leadership.

Below are summaries of the winning proposals:

  • Butler University: Establish The Loop, a student and recent graduate-run innovation development program within the Butler University Innovation Lab. The Loop will offer an in-person and online Testplace designed to amplify student and community idea development through experimentation.
  • Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington: Develop and expand existing entrepreneurial services at the Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington to the statewide Ivy Tech network of campuses to increase engagement in entrepreneurship ecosystems statewide.
  • Taylor University: Establish a competitive entrepreneurship fellowship which provides mentorship, custom training, spiritual and professional coaching, and follow-on support for selected students who commit to participate in extra-curricular fellowship activities.
  • University of Indianapolis: Support the existing DesignSpine engineering entrepreneurship program of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering as well as promote innovation-driven entrepreneurs across the university by providing avenues and resources to take the entrepreneurs’ ideas to the next level.

“Ivy Tech Community College is pleased to be a partner in the Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grant program and enhance our ability to provide our students, faculty, staff and alumni pathways to advance entrepreneurial ideas,” said Jennie Vaughan, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington. “We look forward to working to provide more innovation-based learning modules for our Entrepreneurial Studies program, add pitch competitions at additional campuses statewide and bring our stakeholders into the Elevate Ventures pipeline over the next several years.”

NaShara Mitchell, Innovation Lab Director and Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Butler University said, “Testing ideas is critically important to startup development and refinement. Using workshops, design sprints, rapid prototyping, and other feedback-based efforts, the Butler Innovation Lab is pleased to engage students across all majors in creating replicable, in-person and tech-enabled opportunities to explore, strengthen and advance emerging concepts.”

Elevate Nexus Higher Education Grants are made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The first grant recipients were announced in 2019, and a total of $200,000 will be granted annually through 2021. The funding will enable higher education institutions to launch or improve programming to grow startups across Indiana.

To receive up-to-date information on Elevate Nexus and community program and funding opportunities as they roll out, sign up for the Elevate Nexus newsletter.