Shaping Next Decade

Shaping the Next Decade

Innovators will ensure a prosperous third century for Indiana.

Governor Mike Pence and Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb sent a clear message on Indiana's commitment to strengthening and accelerating Hoosier innovation earlier this summer. When they announced the state's plan to invest $1 billion in Hoosier innovation and entrepreneurship over the next 10 years, they showcased Indiana's dedication to building our strategic partnerships across the state. When 21st century problems arise, Hoosiers will play a leading role in solving them.

As chief innovation officer for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., I help implement this bold vision centered on collaboration, and momentum is indeed on our side. I see Indiana-based companies enabled by world-class talent solving billion-dollar challenges every day as I travel the state. Hoosiers define innovation and entrepreneurship. It's in our DNA. Each week, a new tech firm, advanced manufacturer, agribusiness or life sciences venture chooses Indiana as a place to grow. More Hoosiers are working than at any point in our state's history–working together to ensure Indiana's third century is just as prosperous as our first two by embracing technological change and differentiating our products and services from our competitors.

However, Indiana's leadership in innovation didn't develop overnight, and it will only continue to grow with our shared efforts. We must consciously choose to compete nationwide and globally for investment, ideas and talent. Indiana's $1 billion innovation and entrepreneurship initiative will help further strengthen an environment that enables big ideas to thrive in our state, foster talent that will fuel the ideas' growth and drive investment capital to take those ideas to the market. It is our job as a state to ensure bright-minded innovators have the tools they need to succeed. And, of course, we want to keep these individuals right here in Indiana.

By bringing together educators, community leaders, industry partners and, most important, idea generators, we will further propel and spark innovation across Indiana.

Innovators will find additional resources throughout their regions to grow their ideas. These tools range from business incubators to programs at our state's universities.

Entrepreneurs will gain increased support at all stages of developing their businesses, from leveraging co-working spaces and shared infrastructure to accessing new investors and specialized advisers interested in helping them grow.

Community and industry leaders will have support through matching grants to help spur advancement and create vibrant communities that attract talent and foster new ideas.

And most important, we will seek to further empower the youngest generation in schools across the state to embrace their innovative instinct through entrepreneurial competitions and mentorship.

We will be calling on stakeholders, students, investors and business and education leaders statewide for their guidance, leadership and commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship in our state. This is your plan. You'll help shape, implement and determine its ultimate success. We need your input.

Through this vision, we are communicating to the rest of the nation and to the world that Indiana is in it to win. We indeed choose to compete. The governor often asks, “Who will be the next Colonel Eli Lilly, Bill Cook, Madam C.J. Walker or Scott Dorsey?” I have the utmost confidence that Hoosiers will come to know these future innovators and Indiana's next homegrown billion-dollar idea very soon. Whether they're in school, tinkering in their garages or reading these words, we want to make sure they stay here and have the resources they need to take their idea to the next level in Indiana–a state that works.

Ian Steff is executive vice president and chief innovation officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.


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