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University launches IU Innovates

IU Innovates celebrates the opening of its headquarters in the Von Lee building. Photo by Wendi Chitwood, Indiana University&lt... IU Innovates celebrates the opening of its headquarters in the Von Lee building. Photo by Wendi Chitwood, Indiana UniversityIndiana University has officially launched IU Innovates, a new university-wide initiative that expands support for students and faculty in the creation and growth of startup ventures.

Strategically headquartered at the historic Von Lee building on Kirkwood Avenue adjacent to the IU Bloomington campus, IU Innovates serves faculty and students across the university, while providing a focal point for the university’s efforts to accelerate entrepreneurship and innovation.

IU President Pamela Whitten at the opening of the IU Innovates headquarters.... IU President Pamela Whitten at the opening of the IU Innovates headquarters. Photo by Wendi Chitwood, Indiana UniversityIU President Pamela Whitten joined senior IU leaders, including IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Rahul Shrivastav and Vice President for University Relations Michael Huber, at an internal celebration last week to inaugurate the new initiative and introduce its expected benefits to IU students and faculty as well as to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial supporters across Indiana and beyond.

“IU Innovates unifies our support for student success in entrepreneurship, strengthens the bonds between our research endeavors and industry, and propels business ideas that will fuel economic growth and catalyze Indiana’s flourishing startup community,” Whitten said. “Our goal is clear: to create a more holistic and integrated infrastructure that empowers the entrepreneurial spirit of our students and faculty.”

In addition to unveiling the new initiative, the event served as the first of many “networking” events that the new IU Innovates office in Bloomington will host to ensure that IU student and faculty entrepreneurs have continual access to resources, connections and mentorship that can help advance their ideas and innovations.

“An entrepreneurship ecosystem is only as strong as the connections between its people and resources,” said Julie Heath, the inaugural executive director of IU Innovates who recently served as vice president of entrepreneurial ecosystems for the Indiana Economic Development Corp. “Through this new initiative, we aim to integrate IU’s entrepreneurial support, increase the number of IU entrepreneurs, and strengthen critical partnerships with state and industry leaders who share our commitment to driving economic development through the commercialization of university innovation.”

During the grand opening event, Whitten introduced several IU student entrepreneurs and invited them to share their stories and showcase their startup ideas and products. They and the other student and faculty innovators who attended the event “will be the first to capitalize on the power of IU Innovates,” she said.

In the coming months, student and faculty entrepreneurs will collaborate with IU Innovates to co-host coffee chats, founder peer groups and other programs.

“By partnering with entrepreneurs, IU pitch competitions, incubation programs, clubs and maker spaces, we strengthen connections and build a new conduit for knowledge flow,” Heath said.

For example, IU Innovates is partnering with the Shoemaker Innovation Center within the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering. The goal is to leverage and expand the existing Shoebox incubation program, including the Shoemaker Scholars and StartupIU, all of which have been made possible through a generous gift from John and Donna Shoemaker.

Additionally, IU Innovates will complement and amplify other programs at IU, including IU Ventures, which invests in and supports IU-affiliated early-stage companies; the Elmore Entrepreneurship Law Clinic; the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office; and the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Kelley School of Business.

Ryan Piurek is senior advisor for state impact communications and issues management in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing.