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Inaugural innovation conference planned

IU Ventures
IU Ventures

IU Ventures will bring together several university, regional and state industry leaders as Indiana University continues to further its reputation as a launching pad for successful startups and expand its network of industry partners and investors eager to accelerate new business ventures in the Hoosier state and with an IU affiliation.

The inaugural IU Founders and Funders Network Conference will take place virtually at 1 p.m. EDT Oct. 21. The event will spotlight resources for IU-affiliated entrepreneurs and engagement pathways for potential investors and others from IU’s global community who are seeking to further IU’s mission of strengthening innovation throughout the state and beyond.

The conference will include presentations from the leaders of IU Ventures and event sponsor Bridge Bank, a division of Western Alliance Bank, as well as regional and state leaders working to expand support for entrepreneurs.

IU Ventures will also present the inaugural Spirit of Venture Award during the conference. The award will go to a member of IU’s network of founders and funders who succeeds in entrepreneurship and innovation, provides mentorship and support to IU-affiliated founders and funders, and demonstrates noteworthy service to IU.

“Faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of Indiana University are making major contributions, every day, to a pervasive entrepreneurial community across Indiana University, our state and throughout the world,” IU Ventures President and CEO Tony Armstrong said. “This conference will provide us with a special opportunity to bring together and engage our network of founders, funders and potential new partners on strategies to advance more high-potential IU-affiliated startups, expand our state’s talent pipeline and economic competitiveness, and foster new connections among startups and passionate investors.”

Michael J. Mirro, senior vice president and chief academic research officer at Parkview Health in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and director of the Mirro Center for Research and Innovation at Parkview, will deliver the conference welcome.

Mirro, who is also a member of the IU Board of Trustees, said this is an exciting time for IU alumni and friends to engage with the university as it seeks to advance IU-affiliated products and ideas that have market potential.

“Indiana University is deeply committed to developing a more prosperous and innovative Indiana,” Mirro said. “A major part of this effort is ensuring that creative new enterprises with IU affiliations have access to the university’s expertise, talent, financial resources and connections. We want to serve as a catalyst to strengthen our state’s startup ecosystem, which, in turn, will create new jobs, attract new talent to our state and increase the quality of life for all Hoosiers.”

The IU Founders and Funders Conference will also underscore several of IU Ventures’ key initiatives to support early-stage startup activity. These include the IU Angel Network, which connects qualified IU-affiliated investors to early-stage startups led by members of the IU community. The network provides access to capital, mentorship, educational programming and networking opportunities for IU-affiliated angel investors across the country and globe.

These also include the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, which aims to bridge the gap in startup funding by making equity investments in high-potential early-stage companies with IU affiliations. The fund was established in 2018 as a follow-up to the success of the Innovate Indiana Fund, which supports the growth and development of high-potential technology companies with a strong connection to IU.

“The financial investment, talent, expertise and other support that IU is making available to early-stage startups are essential to bringing new and promising ideas and innovations to market,” said William Robinson, market leader for Bridge Bank’s new Technology Banking team in Chicago. “Bridge Bank is extremely pleased to partner with IU on this inaugural network conference, and we are excited to support the university’s efforts to ensure that entrepreneurs have the strong foundation they need to focus on planning and executing their strategic vision and bringing high-potential business ideas to the marketplace.”

Registration for the conference is now open on the IU Ventures website. Registration is free for faculty, student and alumni entrepreneurs, as well as investors, donors and anyone interested in being part of the IU Founders and Funders Network.

Additionally, IU faculty, staff, students and alumni can submit nominations for the Spirit of Venture Award. Nominations will be accepted through Oct. 8.

About IU Ventures

IU Ventures invests in and supports early-stage companies through three programs: the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, IU Angel Network, and IU Founders and Funders Network. Each program takes unique approaches to accelerate and support the positive impacts that entrepreneurs affiliated with IU already achieve across the world. In Indiana alone, IU Ventures made new and follow-on investments in 15 companies during 2020 and was recognized as one of the top three most active funds in the state. More than 50 percent of the companies IU Ventures has invested in since 2018 have had women or minority founders, CEOs or other C-suite members.

Ryan Piurek is assistant vice president for strategic communications in the Office of the Vice President for Government Relations and Economic Engagement.