A Clearer Path for Indiana’s Innovation Sector

Last summer, the Indiana Chamber formed the Indiana Technology & Innovation Council. A large part of the group’s mission it to protect and advance the public policy interests of related organizations. The Indiana Technology & Innovation Council’s Tech Policy Committee developed an agenda going into the 2017 session with several significant objectives.

We are happy to report – thanks to the work of many – that the group’s first legislative session proved to be highly productive and rewarding, with several key policies to advance innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Indiana set to become law.

These include enhancing early-stage and scale-up funding for promising Indiana business opportunities, an increased focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, better digital and physical connectivity with other parts of the world, funding for better use of big data and providing funding mechanisms to enhance regional infrastructure projects.

Management and Performance Hub Information Holds Promise
Indiana has been a leader in using government data to improve the delivery of services to its citizens. The Management and Performance Hub (MPH) is an evolving integrated data system that links government agency data and allows for data-driven analytics and research, which can help inform policy and improve the delivery of government services to come from that information. House Bill 1470, Government Data, authored by Rep. David Ober (R-Albion), was the main vehicle to codify the MPH and ensure it has maximum utility for taxpayers, government agencies, the Legislature and other external stakeholders.

The measure started off smoothly, but when it got to the Senate, it was derailed during a hearing before the Senate Commerce and Technology Committee. Based on fear that the information would not be secure or de-identified, the committee amended it to be only a summer study committee issue. Fortunately, the original content was restored by Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), the bill’s sponsor, on the Senate floor. The Chamber has supported HB 1470 to maximize its utility as a consistent data source and analytical tool for a variety of public issues with multiple stakeholders.

Fortunately, the budget bill, HB 1001, authored by Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) ended up providing good resources to the MPH –$9 million per year for the next two years. This allows MPH the ability to continue to develop to provide timely and accurate information that can help track vital information for the state’s economy, education and a host of other matters where better data can help inform better decisions.

Municipalities Work to Hinder Small Cell Legislation, But It Passes
A bill to more easily move Indiana’s mobile broadband connectivity to the next generation of technology passed the Indiana General Assembly. Senate Bill 213, Wireless Support Structures, authored by Sen. Hershman, focused on streamlining permitting, fees and co-location to increase coverage by current cell towers and facilitate more rapid installation of small cell technology in Indiana communities.

Specifically, an objective was to eliminate excess fees and permitting by local units of government that would hinder installation of small cell antennas. A lot of misinformation was communicated by detractors to say many of the antennas were the size of a refrigerator or Volkswagen, when, in fact, they are much smaller. It is in the providers’ economic interest to co-locate small cell antennas on current towers, light poles or other structures.

This legislation also highlighted an interesting dynamic: Many municipalities who want better broadband in their communities as an economic development tool also want a “say” in the small cell tower locations and to be able to collect fees and issue permits. And those desires are quite strong.

Case in point: There is a provision in the bill that allows Indiana communities to designate local ordinances (and possibly resolutions) to direct where and how those small cell devices can be put in their community by making them an underground or buried utility area. The deadline for seeking this additional protection was May 1. Realizing this, Accelerate Indiana Municipalities (AIM) sent information to its members around the state to quickly pass an ordinance or resolution by that date. Almost 100 locales were considering doing so. But that move may backfire on these same communities whose citizens want
better broadband. What’s more, whether those new ordinances are legal remains to be seen.

The Chamber supports more and better broadband for Indiana and strongly advocated for SB 213 during the process. We appreciate the hard work of Sen. Hershman and Rep. Ober in getting this legislation over the finish line.

Major Tech, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Progress
Several tech innovation issues ended up advancing in the state biennial budget, HB 1001, authored by Rep. Tim Brown.

A Chamber priority was to increase early stage capital in promising Indiana companies. While making the Venture Capital Investment (VCI) Tax Credit transferrable (to attract out-of-state investment to Indiana) didn’t happen, it arguably worked out even better with the creation of the $250 million Next Level Trust Fund. This allows for up to half of the $500 million corpus from the Major Moves highway infrastructure program to be used for investments outside of conservative fixed income investments. It creates a Next Level Indiana Fund investment board with fiduciary responsibility to direct investments in equities or “funds of funds” which could be directed toward promising Indiana businesses.

In addition to the Next Level Trust Fund, legislators adopted options for Indiana public employees and teachers with defined contribution plans to invest up to 20% of their contributions in an Indiana-focused fund.

This summer, the Legislative Services Agency is conducting a deep study of the impact of the VCI. That report is due in October 2017 and based on information that comes from that report, we hope to better advocate for the enhancement of the tax credit during the 2018 session, if warranted. In SB 507, authored by Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport), the expiration date of the VCI tax credit of 2020 was eliminated so the tax credit now has more certainty for the future.

House Bill 1001 also funded $30 million for the 21st Century Research and Technology Fund. Additionally, $15 million for each of the next two years was allocated for the Business Promotion and Innovation Fund, which combined several requests. It gives authority to the Governor and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to incentivize direct flights from international and regional airports in Indiana, encourage regional development activities (aka Regional Cities), advance innovation and entrepreneurship education programs through strategic partnerships and support international trade.

The Indiana Biosciences Research Institute was funded for $20 million for year two of the budget. This should pay dividends down the road to further grow Indiana life sciences opportunities.

Better Performance Metrics to Recertify Technology Parks
Certified technology parks (CTPs) around the state will benefit from House Bill 1601, authored by Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers). The bill requires IEDC to develop new metrics for performance of CTPs as they are up for recertification.

The IEDC will work with local units of government to develop the metrics. They will include the criteria used to evaluate each category of information by a CTP and a minimum threshold requirement to be recertified in each category.

This is good for both state and local governments to ensure the CTPs are truly being an effective driver of economic activity for that community and region. The bill did not receive any no votes during the legislative process and was supported in a bipartisan fashion. The Chamber backed the bill and appreciates the good work that Rep. Huston and Sen. Hershman, the Senate sponsor, did to ensure its passage.

BizVoice Tech, Innovation Series Moves Forward; Reid Health Joins as Lead Series Advertiser

The Innovation Connector is a full-service business resource incubator focused on emerging tech and innovative companies in East Central Indiana. In January 2017, the group launched the Coding Connector for area students to promote discovery of coding and programming.

Part 2 of the yearlong BizVoice magazine series on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship is in the books. We encourage you to check out the March-April entries, with the focus on Outstanding Talent, the lead driver in the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan.

For the remainder of 2017, we’re proud to have Reid Health on board as the lead series advertiser. Among the upcoming features: meeting the space needs of scale-up organizations, communities investing in their quality of place, financing options for entrepreneurs and more.

The March-April highlights include:

  • Powerful ‘Force’: The second of a six-part series on Recovery Force examines how both team members and advisors were added to the mix to fill critical roles. Also, learn how the co-founders blend their strengths in moving the organization forward.
  • X-Factor: Internship Program Showcases Jobs, City: The Xtern program takes recruitment beyond the job, showcasing Indianapolis and central Indiana to talented young people. The initiative continues to grow and succeed.
  • Vital Connections: Mentoring Snapshot Comes Into Focus: Entrepreneurial leaders in Muncie and Terre Haute discuss mentoring efforts and keys to helping others achieve their business dreams.
  • Quick Hits: A commercialization academy at the University of Southern Indiana, Trine University Hall of Fame and I-Light upgrades.

Access the full interactive version of BizVoice®. If you wish to receive the magazine in print, subscribe online.

Internet of Things Conference Highlights Connections

IndyIoT Event Invite

Did you know one of the first devices to be connected to the Internet was a toaster? In 1990, John Romkey and Simon Hacknett accepted a challenge to connect and control a toaster via the Internet. It was a groundbreaking feat 20 years ago – even though today you can buy a toaster that toasts the day’s weather forecast onto your breakfast.

While the name “Internet of Things” (IoT) was not yet coined in 1990, the Internet Toaster, as it became known, falls plainly under the construct of IoT: allowing connection between devices and the Internet, or between devices and devices, or between people and devices, etc.

The IoT has the potential to automate your house (control your thermostat remotely, or send your health vitals to your doctor just by stepping on the bathroom scale) and even link up entire city systems (correcting water quality or regulating traffic flow, for example).

Recently, John McDonald, CEO of Fishers-based CloudOne, addressed the Indiana Technology and Innovation Council’s inaugural meeting at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and gave an example of the potential for IoT in everyday life: your car radio and picking up on the fact that it is 3 a.m. and you aren’t driving as safely as you had been earlier; there is a 24-hour Starbucks ahead and your payment information can be beamed to the store, with your favorite hot drink ready for you when you drive through.

While the possibilities might sound futuristic, Hoosier companies are already working on these technologies.

To celebrate and acknowledge the possibilities, the IndyIoT conference will take place on September 28 from 1-5 p.m. at Launch Fishers.

The conference brings together IoT innovators, and will highlight innovations through 15-minute burst presentations. Speakers include Michael Wollowski, Ph.D., Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Kip Tom, Tom Farms; Michael Coffey, Roche; and Robert Rodenbeck, Delta Faucet Company.

Follow along on Twitter at @IndyIOT or visit the web site at www.indyiot.com.

TECH THURSDAY: First Technology & Innovation Council Meeting a Success

Over 100 Hoosier innovators and leaders joined us for the first ever meeting of the Indiana Technology & Innovation Council Tuesday. Here are some pictures from the gathering, held in the Indiana Chamber Conference Center in Indianapolis, along with a summary and next steps:

pic4Indiana Chamber of Commerce VP Mark Lawrance is leading the Chamber’s efforts in bringing the council together to help Indiana’s tech ecosystem move forward in a unified manner.


pic8

Bill Soards of AT&T addressed the crowd, relaying lessons he learned about entrepreneurship and the tech sector while working in Colorado.


pic3John McDonald of CloudOne led the discussion about policy priorities, sharing captivating stories from his experiences and gaining valuable feedback from those in attendance.


pic7

John Wechsler of Launch Fishers has become one of the state’s go-to mentors and leaders for entrepreneurship.


pic5 The crowd included representatives from Indiana’s K-12 and college education sectors, including Allison Barber of WGU Indiana.


pic2

Ian Steff of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation also addressed the crowd. We’re grateful for the IEDC’s commitment to helping create more high-paying jobs in the Hoosier State via tech and innovation.


pic1

Indiana Business for Responsive Government’s Jeff Brantley discussed the role legislators can play in helping Indiana’s tech sector thrive.

New Addition: Indiana Technology & Innovation Council

Ckcs6ilVEAAGJWx

Technology companies are relocating to and growing in portions of Indiana. The mission of the Indiana Chamber’s new Indiana Technology & Innovation Council is to support and expand those efforts.

The Chamber will utilize its policy, political affairs, event planning, research, communications and financial resources in collaboration with tech company leaders and organizations. The Indiana Technology & Innovation Council opens the door statewide to those wanting to join Chamber members, who will receive these expanded benefits as part of their current Chamber dues investment.

Chamber members can participate in upcoming open discussions on policy and programming priorities. Two committees – Tech Policy, and Program and Trends – comprised of representatives of member companies will develop a specific policy agenda and programming that supports existing efforts.

Full details are available in this press release. Mark Lawrance (mlawrance@indianachamber.com), who recently returned to the Chamber as Vice President of Engagement and Innovation Policy, will be the lead staff person.

“We’re excited to partner with tech companies and their leaders,” states Lawrance, “while offering a statewide platform to expand Indiana’s growing tech success story.”

It’s All About Innovation

Innovation (and workforce and a few other things) is the name of the game when it comes to Indiana business development. It’s featured throughout the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan. And innovation will be the focus of a late August event.

Centric is an Indianapolis-based innovation think tank and networking group, with the goal of making the city (and beyond) a globally recognized center for innovation. The Indiana Innovation Awards strive to recognize innovation and excellence throughout the state. The two come together at Centric’s Day of Innovation on August 28.

To be nominated for the awards, an organization must have launched a product or service in the past three years that has shown success and is considered innovative in its market. Past Indiana Innovation Awards winners include Cultural Trail, TinderBox, Delta Faucet, Yikes, Brackets for Good, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and many others.

 

 

Plight of Blockbuster Proves You Must Innovate or Die

In Indiana, we're blessed to have a culture of business innovation and entrepreneurial drive. This article from Hootsuite explains why businesses must never lose that passion for innovation.

When some companies stop innovating, it can literally kill them.

Remember Blockbuster?

Just 10 years ago, with 8,000 stores and $3 billion in annual revenue, Blockbuster was easily the planet’s biggest video chain. Today, after bankruptcy and massive closures, it’s limping along with 500 stores. And their days seem numbered.

What happened? Netflix happened. Redbox happened. Streaming video happened. The world and the technology surrounding how people like to watch stuff changed. Blockbuster didn’t.

And there are many other examples out there, of big brands who faced the same fate. The latest story making waves is that of RIM, formerly known as Blackberry, who—after years of struggling to stay afloat in the highly competitive smartphone market—announced this week they are looking at the possibility of selling off the company…

So to avoid this, I’ve embraced a few innovation strategies from some of the best business minds out there:

1. Let them chase rainbows

Give employees in-office time to explore their craziest ideas and passion projects. This concept is actually decades-old, but it’s still around because it’s effective. Major US corporation 3M’s unwritten “15-percent time” rule, for instance, has been around since 1948. It encourages its scientists and engineers to spend up to 15 percent of their working hours pursuing their own projects, even if they have nothing to do with their actual jobs. The program has resulted in the development of many of 3M’s top-selling products, including Scotch tape and the Post-it note.

2. Start a skunkworks

Have a secret innovation lab somewhere in your business. “Skunkworks,” is a small group within an organization that is given a high level of independence to research and develop secret projects, often in the spirit of radical innovation. Google’s skunkworks is their top-secret Google X Lab, which gave birth to Google Glass. Current Google projects that have emerged from the lab are a driverless car and Project Loon, “a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space,” that will give internet access to people in rural and remote areas.

Amazon has a similar group, called Lab 126, from which the Kindle was born. It’s reportedly now developing a 3D Kindle. And last year, LinkedIn launched its own unique skunkworks-type initiative called [in]cubator. Under the program, any employee at LinkedIn can, up to 4 times a year, pitch an idea to a panel of their bosses (which includes CEO Jeff Weiner). If approved, the person is granted up to three months of work time to turn it into a reality with a designated team.

3. Have Hackathons

Set aside days for employees to run wild with their best new ideas. Working in the technology industry for over a decade, I’ve seen firsthand that great ideas emerge when people feel free. They don’t tend to surface in high-pressure situations, like in boardrooms with bosses standing overhead. So the hackathon, or hack day, is a great way to facilitate creative brainstorming. This is a fairly casual, in-office event that can last anywhere from a day to a week. Employees come together to share great new ideas and ultimately pick the best ones to pursue further.

While Hackathons originally were events for developing new software technologies, many industries have embraced the hackathon for all-around brainstorming and innovation. One of the most interesting examples is Brainhack, a three-day hackathon aimed at fostering innovation in the field of brain science.

My company also holds Hoot-Hackathons, two-day events which allow employees to freely pitch ideas, work with new people, and build new things. These events foster a culture of innovation and gets people enthusiastic about new ideas. Plus, it doesn’t cost a lot.

Lt. Governors Skillman, Ellspermann Find Great Value in Crane NSWC

Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center (in Crane, Indiana) has a reputation as "the best kept secret" in Indiana when it comes to innovation and public/private partnerships that are changing what is possible in America. For a full story on how Crane is enhancing the state's entrepreneurship culture, keep an eye out for our July/August edition of BizVoice magazine. Our creative director and I were fortunate to receive a tour of the base and the Westgate @ Crane Technology Park to learn about what's happening there — all that isn't classified, of course. But it appears we aren't the only ones who are impressed. Two of Indiana's most esteemed legislators also have some kind words about the base:

Becky Skillman did admirable work as Indiana's Lt. Gov. during Mitch Daniels' popular administration. After leaving office, she landed back in her home region of Southern Indiana, and is leading Radius Indiana. Additionally, our current Lt. Gov, Sue Ellspermann, also offered remarks on how vital Crane is for Hoosier innovation. See below.

Becky Skillman, President/CEO, Radius Indiana
Radius Indiana serves as a catalyst to help support and promote the use of civili military innovation through technology transfer and entrepreneurship. We work with our network of partners, including Westgate @ Crane, the ISBDC (Indiana Small Business Development Center), and many others to help start-up companies connect to resources they need in order to promote entrepreneurial success and economic growth within our 8-county region and beyond. With the low-cost, business-friendly environment that exists in Indiana, we are perfectly positioned and ready for growth within the defense industry.


Sue Ellspermann, Lt. Gov.
In the past I have enjoyed working with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane to increase the capture of intellectual property and the potential tech transfer opportunities available by identifying an external non-military application and potential market.

Our administration’s vision for Indiana includes focusing on economic development within Indiana's defense sector. One of the goals of the Indiana Office of Defense Development is to leverage the incredible assets at Crane and our federal research labs, including identifying high-potential technologies and developing strategies to successfully commercialize them. There is growing interaction and collaboration between the private sector and our major universities to bring technological innovations developed at Crane to market, to bolster the economy and create more high-tech, high-wage jobs in Indiana.

Groups Call for National Innovation Focus

Innovation. Experts contend that the dominant role of the U.S. is in jeopardy as other countries accelerate their efforts and Americans lag behind.

Two organizations say a national focus is needed. Here is a quick summary from the State Science & Technology Institute.

The call is for the United States to create a national federal office of innovation to help focus and concentrate innovation across the country.

Following the election, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) announced its policy recommendations for the administration in their weekly news publication as part of their "Winning the Race 2012" series. Among other recommendations to improve the country’s competitiveness, innovation, and productivity, ITIF calls for the creation of a National Innovation Foundation. Similar in scope and organization to the National Science Foundation, the National Innovation Foundation would support companies and other organizations in innovation activities. 

Similarly, OECD in a late November policy paper recommended establishing a national innovation agency, specifically, along with the proposed National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, within the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

Both ITIF and the OECD note that many other countries with "advanced economies" have an agency that consolidates and coordinates a national innovation policy. Instead, the United States’ innovation policy is spread throughout White House offices and Department of Commerce agencies.

With the approach of the so-called "fiscal cliff" and a focus on creating a leaner government, it is unlikely that a new agency or office is realistic. Instead, it may be necessary to scale back the activities of other departments and agencies. 

Economic Energy? Look to Local Leadership

I read a recent post from the CEO of Gallup, who provided a good reminder that, like politics, ultimate business success is often locally driven. Yes, policies from Washington and state capitals make a big difference — but so does leadership in communities and companies.

A few highlights from Jim Clifton:

Throughout this year’s long election season, I was often asked: “Who will be better for jobs and the economy, President Obama or Governor Romney?” My reply most surely disappointed partisans from both sides: The president of the United States doesn’t make as much difference in terms of creating economic energy as you’d think, according to Gallup data.

In fact, if the president mattered that much, why is it that cities and states have such extreme variation in their local GDP and job growth? Shouldn’t they all go up or down together with each president?

Instead, Austin, Texas, and Nashville, Tenn., are booming, while Albany, N.Y., and Stockton, Calif., are failing. Texas is prospering while California is almost surely going broke. Austin’s jobless rate is around 5%, while the unemployment rate in Stockton is above 13%.

The difference, in my view, is that Austin has deeply caring, highly engaged business, political, and philanthropic leaders with principles, policies, beliefs, and values about human nature that work. They understand how to build a thriving, growing economy — one that welcomes business and entrepreneurship. Albany has the opposite, as I see it: Leaders with principles, policies, values, and beliefs that discourage business and entrepreneurship, if not outright scaring them away.

Cities across the country with great leadership are filled with booming startup companies, and those cities have thriving economies that create authentic, organically grown good jobs. These cities are saving America, while the others are letting the country down.

Great city leadership has never been so needed. Nationally, business startups are currently growing at under 400,000 annually. If this rate doesn’t double soon, in my view, absolutely nothing will fix our current nightmare of joblessness.

Of course good policy for small businesses is better than bad policy, but in my opinion, the estimated 10,000 business, political, and philanthropic leaders of all shapes and sizes who drive the performance of America’s top 100 cities are the most important people in our country right now.