In West Lafayette riding bikes and playing sports.
When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
A Democratic politician, until I went to college and realized I was a Republican.
Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
Going to work for Mitch Daniels.
Have you been mentored by (or had any significant interactions with) previous Forty Under 40 honorees?
Neil Pickett and Mark Lubbers. There is no better policy wonk then Neil and no better business networker than Mark.
Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
President, Energy Systems Network
Participation in public policy has been part of Paul Mitchell’s DNA since his days at West Lafayette High School, when he helped set up a youth council to interact with city government and the mayor. Mitchell followed his muse to Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and, when he finished grad school, he joined Gov. Mitch Daniels’ administration as policy director in 2005.
He considers that a transformative time in Indiana’s history, “where Gov. Daniels and a team of really smart, motivated, innovative people—which I was lucky to be a part of—began to find ways to improve how government operates and find ways to partner and leverage private industry and government together through public-private partnerships.”
After four years of seeing how the state built the life sciences, Mitchell thought that model could be replicated in the energy sector. With the help of Mark Miles, president of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, and Joe Loughrey, former president of Cummins Inc., and Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder, he started Energy Systems Network, a not-for-profit that helps public and private entities work together to bring clean technology to market.
Energy Systems has launched three commercialization projects focused on reducing emissions/fuel consumption of heavy trucks (Hoosier Heavy Hybrid Partnership); allowing for an all-electric commute powered by a smart utility grid (Project Plug-IN); and supplying military bases with reliable homegrown energy (MicroGreen). The projects have leveraged more than $500 million in federal and private funding and linked more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, four Indiana startups, Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame and IUPUI.
Mitchell said he wants to see the clean-tech sector become a sustainable, high-growth industry that creates jobs and advances technology created in Indiana around the world.
“We’ve lost jobs in other sectors,” he said. “This is a way we can reinvent ourselves.”•