16 Aug Introducing IU Ventures: The Future of IU Innovation
Around the world, there is a community of alumni, close to 700,000 strong, working to solve real problems and bring new, innovative ideas to life. It’s made up of researchers, entrepreneurs, technologists, business leaders, investors, and all manner of brilliant minds with one thing in common: Indiana University. Carrying on a rich tradition of innovation, members of the IU community are coming together in new ways to bring their ideas to life and create 21st Century jobs.
Today, we are proud to introduce IU Ventures to this community as a resource to further strengthen our existing networks and support entrepreneurial activity. An evolution of the Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation (IURTC), IU Ventures is the University’s next step in connecting our vast community of faculty, alumni, students and friends with everything our network has to offer, from startup support to mentorship to capital.
Building on a Rich Tradition of Innovation
Indiana University has had a long track record of commercializing research and new ideas from within our community. When someone uses Crest toothpaste to brush their teeth, that’s IU research at work. When a patient finds comfort in a modern hospital bed, that’s the result of IU innovation. Thanks to advances made with cisplatin chemotherapy at Indiana University’s Medical School today’s testicular cancer patients see a 95% survival rate compared to the 5% survival rate common in the past. These and countless other technologies have had a tremendous impact on the world, and it’s the focus of IU Ventures to expand that impact for years to come.
IU Ventures President & CEO Tony Armstrong has years of experience supporting the University’s goals to protect and commercialize intellectual property. He believes the new programs we have to offer are a natural next step.
“The field of tech transfer and research has evolved, so I think the IU Ventures suite of services is just an evolution of our work to effectively build on the success we’ve had in the past in growing marketable businesses,” says Armstrong. “One new approach we’re taking is with our alumni engagement. We’re offering new ways for alumni to support the creation and growth of businesses and new jobs, and we’re doing that in a systematic, focused way.” Part of that focus involves engaging with IU alumni and supporters across the United States, not just in Indiana, to support innovation wherever there are individuals with an IU connection.
That system takes shape in three key programs aiming to serve IU-affiliated entrepreneurs and supporters of innovation: The IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, the Quarry, and the IU Angel Network.
The IU Philanthropic Venture Fund: “A Perpetual Gift”
The new entrepreneurial focus of IU Ventures first came to light as board members of the IURTC sought out a way to engage IU alumni and other donors interested in seeing a new way for their gifts to continue to grow and provide value for years to come. After the creation of the $10 million Innovate Indiana fund, the University saw success investing in growing tech and science-based startups. The question arose: Could we develop a new fund that would circulate investment returns to fund the next generation of new ventures?
IU Ventures found the answer to this question in the leadership of Teri Willey, who now serves as the Fund Manager for the Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund and an Executive Director of IU Ventures.
“This is a donated pool of capital that invests in Indiana University spinouts and alumni founded companies, then becomes evergreen through the equity realizations and provides resources for continuing to support innovation,” says Willey. “It’s the passion of IU friends, family, donors, and alumni that led to the creation of the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund. Now, when someone wants to support the institution, they have the option to give a perpetual gift that will support new, IU affiliated ventures and generate funds for continued support into the future.”
The Quarry and The IU Angel Network: Rounding out the Picture
With the creation of the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund came an increased opportunity to support those “spin-out” businesses, and with it the chance to step-up the University’s support of faculty with research and intellectual property that has market potential. The IURTC had an existing spin-out program to help IU faculty entrepreneurs with the technology transfer element of new ventures. But a broader approach would lead to a larger number of ventures for the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund to support, and so IU Ventures called on the services of IU alumnus Jason Whitney.
Under Whitney’s leadership, this program evolved into The Quarry, a program whose very name speaks to the rich resources available in Bloomington and throughout the IU network of campuses. “Now we can offer support to a greater number of IU faculty throughout the IU network by connecting them to advisors, mentors, investors, and management talent to help make their ideas and businesses more sustainable long-term,” says Whitney, who now serves as the Associate Vice President of IU Ventures.
Further enhancement of the IU Ventures offering came with the addition of Tedd Green, an IU Kelley School of Business alumnus. Green brings successful start-up and business scaling experience to the IU Ventures team. Green is an Executive in Residence at IU Ventures and was tasked with rounding out the organization’s startup services by launching the IU Angel Network.
“It’s often hard for entrepreneurs to find funding, especially at early stages,” explains Green. “We want to support technologies and ideas, whether coming out of IU or developed by a member of our alumni base, in seeing the light of day from a commercialization standpoint when that product or service has the ability to address an unmet need in the marketplace.”
With the success of the Innovate Indiana and IU Philanthropic Venture funds in providing seed to series-A funding for IU-affiliated companies, IU Ventures saw an opportunity to support early-stage startups by connecting accredited investors within the IU community to entrepreneurs in need of pre-seed and seed capital. Through the IU Angel Network, these investors can join an organization of fellow IU alumni and friends in order to network and gain access to a curated pipeline of IU-affiliated startups, pre-screened by the IU Ventures team.
Innovation with a Purpose
Now, with a set of programs that can support IU-affiliated entrepreneurs through the many stages of building a successful business around an innovative idea, IU Ventures is poised to extend the broader mission of Indiana University.
“We have traditionally focused on the ways that IU can contribute to the economic vitality of Indiana,” says Bill Stephan, Vice President for Government Relations and Economic Engagement for Indiana University. “We want our ventures to move past that startup stage to become vibrant companies that bring new jobs and attract additional capital investment to IU-affiliated enterprises across the country, and IU Ventures plays a key role here.”
Stay tuned for in-depth looks at each of the three IU Ventures programs in the weeks to come. In the meantime, we invite you to visit our homepage at iuventures.com and start your journey with us. We’ve organized our website to give you a roadmap that matches your interests, whether you’re an IU-affiliated entrepreneur with a new business idea, a member of our faculty with research you’re interested in commercializing, an accredited investor interested in joining the IU Angel Network, or a friend of the university with time, talents, or dollars to donate.