State Launches Fund to Fuel Smart and Advanced Manufacturing Startups

Investments focused to drive startup innovation in one of Indiana’s key vertical markets

June 2, 2020

Governor Eric J. Holcomb announced this past Friday that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), in partnership with Elevate Ventures, will launch a $3 million fund focused on smart and advanced manufacturing in Indiana.

Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb. Image credit: AP

Managed by Elevate Ventures, an Indianapolis-based venture development organization, the Smart & Advanced Manufacturing Focus Fund (SAM Fund) will provide investment, entrepreneurial support resources, and thought leadership to manufacturers and manufacturing entrepreneurs seeking to grow new ideas within the manufacturing industry. Elevate Ventures Entrepreneur-in-Residence Mark Gramelspacher said the fund will focus on creating a stronger core economy around manufacturing, and manufacturing innovation to build upon Indiana’s leading position in the world.

Smart manufacturing includes technologies such as 3D printing, data analytics, and augmented reality/virtual reality, while advanced manufacturing uses cutting-edge technology and processes to gain competitive advantages in the market in areas such as safety, quality, productivity and cost. Gramelspacher said many firms in these industries, whether they are startup entrepreneurs or deliberator corporate spin-offs, have new ideas that could improve their position and garner the establishment of near-industry leaders with a platform like the SAM Fund to help bring them forward.

The SAM Fund will help identify and encourage manufacturing entrepreneurs, as well as existing Indiana manufacturers with IP-to-commercialization opportunities to bring those technologies into the marketplace.

“Indiana has very deep manufacturing roots and many firms doing business in our state are recognized globally for their expertise. We’re in a remarkable location in the U.S. and now more than ever, there is a significant opportunity to rethink the supply chain and support a new way of building products in the United States,” said Gramelspacher. “Indiana intends to continue leadership in this area of the economy.”

With initial investments of up to $500,000, the SAM Fund can lead or co-invest in larger financing rounds, which are designed to bring more robust support to help startups with product/market fit, product development, generate sustained early revenue, and attract larger investments, while also stimulating local job growth and creating a return to the investment.

“Indiana has long been known as a manufacturing powerhouse, making safe, reliable and innovative products that help power our world,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. “With the launch of the SAM Fund, Indiana is poised to build on this reputation, leveraging our thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem to increase the state’s competitiveness in smart manufacturing. Together with our venture development partners at Elevate Ventures, we’re excited to work together with Hoosier manufacturers and startups alike to accelerate their economic recovery and propel long-term advancements and growth in the industry.”

Manufacturing accounts for 27.8% of the total output of Indiana and employs 17.4% of the workforce with over 542,000 jobs. The SAM Fund will build upon this key vertical market by encouraging the launch of smart and advanced manufacturing startups as well as spin-out technologies from Indiana manufacturers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically and rapidly disrupted supply chains globally,” said Chris LaMothe, CEO at Elevate Ventures. “Our state is uniquely positioned to lead the development and growth of smart and advanced manufacturing education, training, innovation and expansion.”

Companies interested in learning more are encouraged to contact Elevate Ventures.

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