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Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is thriving and at the center of Indiana’s economy as Indiana builds a sustainable future for the next generation. Natasha Matta-Jensen, Vice President of Entrepreneurship & Innovation Development, shares the state’s entrepreneurial strategy.
Can you describe what the Entrepreneurship and Small Business team does at the IEDC?
The IEDC’s Entrepreneurship and Small Business team is focused on supporting entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey by administering valuable programs and resources, connecting entrepreneurs to the right resources at the right time, and ensuring Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem remains strong and well connected. This is accomplished through 5 key activity areas:
- Ecosystem Development – setting the conditions for entrepreneurs to succeed in Indiana
- Entrepreneur Support – taking an active role in providing services and resources to entrepreneurs and small businesses
- Capital Access – increasing and directing consistent capital to Hoosier businesses
- Innovative Public-Private Partnerships – collaborating with industry leaders to promote growth in strategic sectors
- Compelling Storytelling – promoting Indiana’s entrepreneurial resources as well as highlighting our entrepreneurs, our partners, and their stories as a way of inspiring others.
Why is the IEDC focused on entrepreneurship?
99.4% of all businesses in the state are small businesses. Furthermore, businesses under 5 years old account for 74% of net new job growth. So, investing in entrepreneurship makes perfect economic sense for Indiana. Second, small businesses make our communities vibrant places to live. We need our coffee shops, gyms, restaurants, and stores to build quality of place; we need our manufacturers to make products that we use daily in our houses, cars, or computers; we need our tech startups disrupting the market and introducing new ways of working, thinking, and living; and we need our lawyers, accountants, and electricians to ensure it all keeps running.
Supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs is supporting a diverse and community-driven approach to economic development and builds places we all want to live and work in.
How is the IEDC investing in entrepreneurship and small business success?
The IEDC is laser focused on providing resources relevant to every stage of a business. Whether you are an entrepreneur with an idea and want to start your next venture or a 100-year-old, family business looking to innovate and grow, the IEDC is actively finding ways to make technical support and capital available to Indiana businesses. Through the IEDC’s partnership with Elevate Ventures, Indiana is making more early-stage investments in Hoosier startups than ever before. The IEDC also supports youth entrepreneurship through activities such as Innovate WithIN – the country’s largest high-school pitch competition run through STARTedUP Foundation. Through SBIR/STTR matching grants, Indiana is encouraging and supporting research and development and active collaboration with Indiana’s higher education institutions. The IEDC is also focused on telling the story of Indiana’s entrepreneurs and shining a light on the stories of Hoosiers taking risks, being bold, and launching and scaling their ventures here in Indiana.
Are there specific programs Indiana small business owners/entrepreneurs should know about?
There are a wide variety of resources available to entrepreneurs at every stage of their business in Indiana. You can find a full list of active programs at iedc.in.gov/entrepreneurship, but just a few of those resources are:
- The Venture Capital Investment Tax Credit (VCI) – Improving access to capital for fast-growing Indiana companies by providing individual and corporate investors an additional incentive to invest in early-stage firms and qualified investment funds.
- The Indiana Small Business Development Center – Providing 1:1 advising and training to all small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to start, grow, and innovate in Indiana.
- Manufacturing Readiness Grants – Assisting manufacturers planning to make innovative capital investments in smart manufacturing within their Indiana operations with financial support, and encouraging manufacturers to adopt tech-enabled solutions to grow capacity and efficiency.
- gener8tor gBETA Cohorts – Providing individualized coaching and mentorship through 7-week accelerator programs to startups in strategic industries.
Who does IEDC partner with across the state to make these initiatives work?
The IEDC has built relationships with industry leaders in strategic sectors to stimulate innovation and research, bring industry expertise to the IEDC’s programming, and help build Indiana’s future economy. A few of those include:
- Sports Tech HQ – a non-profit organization dedicated to building a strong sports tech ecosystem here in Indiana.
- Applied Research Institute – a non-profit focused on bringing academic, industry, and government organizations together to solve emerging technical and innovation challenges and pursue opportunities for Indiana.
- Indy Autonomous Challenge – a collaborative effort that brings together public-private partners and academic institutions to challenge university students across the globe to imagine, invent, and prove a new generation of automated vehicle software to run fully autonomous racecars and inspire the next generation of STEM talent.
How can small businesses and entrepreneurs learn more about the resources available to them in Indiana?
The easiest way to find information on the programs and resources the IEDC has to offer entrepreneurs and small businesses is to visit iedc.in.gov/entrepreneurship. You will find updated program information, industry partner information, and newly launched initiatives – such as the Connect IND portal. The Connect IND portal is a digital front door to help entrepreneurs find resources relevant to them based on geography, stage of business, needs, and more.