Editorial: State’s contingent at tech trade show will benefit state

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We are excited to see the Indiana Economic Development Corp. headed to CES, what used to be known as the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas next month in an effort to (as reporter Susan Orr describes on page 1A) promote Indiana’s tech economy to a worldwide audience.

The IEDC contingent of about 10 will be joined by folks from Indiana industry groups TechPoint, AgriNovus, Conexus and the Energy Systems Network.

ESN is a host of the Indy Autonomous Challenge, which is an official event at CES and a second iteration of the competition held this fall at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Just like in Indy, university-led teams will compete by programming autonomous racecars to circle the racetrack—and the hope is for some head-to-head passing this time.

The autonomous event was a catalyst for getting Indiana officials to make CES a priority for 2022. But it’s about more than supporting the challenge. The move also is in line with efforts by new Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers to focus on entrepreneurship as well as higher-growth tech industries, including artificial intelligence, robotics, life sciences and micro-electronics, and alternative energy technology.

This will be the first time the IEDC will be at the show. And there are officials from at least a few other states attending. But the IEDC will be sharing an exhibitor booth with Energy Systems Network and the Indy Autonomous Challenge, which should give the state a higher profile.

“We’re right there in the middle of it,” Paul Mitchell, Energy Systems Network’s president and CEO, told Orr.

And that’s just where we want Indiana to be as it competes to land not only advanced manufacturing plants and software companies, but also talent—people who might be working remotely for another firm or might be looking for a place to start their own companies.

AgriNovus CEO Mitch Frazier told Orr it’s also about “seeing what’s possible and then bringing that back and using it to shape the next chapter of growth” in Indiana.

The Indy Autonomous Challenge means people from other places will also be looking at Indiana—or an Indiana-based program—for inspiration as well. That’s great news because it helps put Indiana on the radar of the very people the state needs to thrive.

The interest in the challenge should also provide motivation for groups like ESN, AgriNovus, TechPoint and Conexus (all offshoots of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership) to keep pushing the envelope, to seek more audacious ideas and challenges, and to set bigger goals for Indiana.

Of course, the COVID variant omicron has led some companies to opt out of going to CES. But as of IBJ’s deadline on Wednesday, the Indiana contingent was still heading to Las Vegas for the event.

We are confident those officials will represent Indiana well—as will the students from IUPUI and Purdue University who are participating in the autonomous challenge. And we look forward to the ideas they bring home.•

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